Oklahoma State saved their season in front of a sold-out, homecoming crowd on Saturday, ending Texas’ shot at the College Football Playoff with a 38 to 35 win over the Longhorns.
It was exactly the kind of outcome you’d hope for on a night when the Cowboys were honoring the greatest player to ever don the orange and black, and one of the greatest college football players of all time.
There was a lot of emotions, a lot happened. For me, there were ten big takeaways from the game.
We’ve never seen this film before.
At halftime, with Oklahoma State leading 31-14, I wondered; would this be a repeat of OSU vs. Texas 2004, 2005, and 2007, or was this going to be the 2018 version of 2013 Baylor and 2015 TCU?
After OSU’s best offensive drive of the second half ended with a missed field goal, I started to think the former. Once Texas got within ten, I thought I smelled the offense we’d come to expect from Oklahoma State, one that was mistake prone and shot itself in the foot with untimely penalties. At the same time, Texas gained momentum and finally found some offensive rhythm.
I thought I knew what was coming.
But, instead of a complete collapse or a blow-out, OSU did something else; they hung on.
This was not the Oklahoma State team we’d seen through the first eight weeks of the season. It was one that, against the No. 6 team in the country, did enough down the stretch, on the hands of Tylan Wallace, the feet of Chuba Hubbard and Justice Hill, and the arm, legs, and poise of Taylor Cornelius.
I don’t know if this is a sign of things to come, or just a great one-off performance, but for the first time since the win over Boise State, damn it feels good to be a Cowboy.
I love OSU’s uniforms. There are so many great pieces that can be mixed and matched into numerous fantastic combinations. But these throwbacks need to become, at worst, a yearly tradition.
Every homecoming. Replace the patch with a new one each season to commemorate whoever is the Homecoming Grand Marshall.
Some want to see them all the time. That would be fun, but that would take some of the magic out of them. But please don’t hang them up for another 30 years.
Oklahoma State should play like an underdog more often.
The Cowboys, especially in the first quarter, finally looked like they were trying to win. The first pass was out to a running back. The second touchdown as out of the I-formation.
What a play. Yurcich off the top rope! pic.twitter.com/XChK91BSAd— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) October 28, 2018
As I mentioned earlier, the first half at least, brought back memories of the Baylor win in 2013 and the TCU win in 2015.
Gundy was aggressive and creative. The offensive line played inspired football. The defense was really impressive. I realize part of it was the two-weeks off to make changes (more on that in a minute) but this team was 1-3 in its last three games while favored. As an underdog at home on homecoming night? They played inspired football.
This team isn’t great. But it finally showed what it can do when it’s talented weapons are used correctly.
Cornelius benefits from a new-look offense
That first half was beautiful, especially the first quarter. Joel and I have discussed on the pod for awhile that if the Cowboys were going to stick with Cornelius, then they needed to start calling an offense that better fit his skill set. For the first time all season, they did. And it worked perfectly.
Two running back sets, passing to running backs out wide, fewer deep passes. It’s exactly what we’ve been wanting to see. And low and behold, Cornelius rewarded coaches and the fans with one of his best games of the season. He completed 23-of-34 passes for 321 yards, three touchdowns, and no turnovers.
He wasn’t perfect (he has GOT to get rid of the ball earlier and recognize when coverage is falling apart), but he looked far more comfortable in the game. This is more like what we expected Cornelius to look like this season, and it’s all because the coaches finally started playing to his strengths.
Fouls happen. Mistakes happen. We know the special teams aren’t great.
That said, kick-offs that go out of bounds? Absolutely unacceptable. OSU’s first kick-off of the game went out of bounds. It’s the 5th time this season that’s happened.
If nothing else the rest of the year, can we please correct this one thing.
Penalties... weren’t a big problem
Oklahoma State was called for just four penalties for 52 yards on Saturday night. And we all know that one of those — the PI on Green on Texas’s first drive — was a garbage call.
It ties the Boise State game for the fewest penalties in a game this season.
Penalties have murdered good offensive drives and kept opponents’ drives alive all season. It happened a couple times, but as we saw, when OSU can play clean football, they can be pretty good.
Of everything I saw on Saturday, I really hope that is the thing that becomes a trend moving forward.
Offensive line was good
When word leaked out on twitter before the game that Arlington Hambright wasn’t warming up with the team, there was real concern. But the offensive line had their best performance of the season.... Even after Shane Richards went out on the first play of the second quarter, the offensive line did a good job. Not great, but good.
Things got a little rough in the second half. The line wasn’t able to get the same push as the first half, but that was easily the best performance from the position group we’ve seen all season, especially considering it was against a defense the likes of Texas’
America, Meet Tylan Wallace.
What better way is there to introduce yourself to the nation than in primetime on ABC against No. 6 Texas? That’s exactly what Tylan Wallace did.
He finished the game with 10 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, when Taylor Cornelius needed a completion, Wallace was there ready to go. He was a frickin contortionist. His stride is ridiculous. He was just flat-out impressive and looked like the best player on the field.
At one point, he had more yards and the same number of touchdowns as the entire Texas offense.
In the Mike Gundy era (since 2005) Texas has given up nine individual receiving performances of 160+ yards. Tylan Wallace just made it 10 ... in the first half.— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) October 28, 2018
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but I can’t wait to see him with a more talented quarterback.
Speaking of great performances...
Cornerback A.J. Green had one of the best performances of his Oklahoma State career. Green had the difficult job of covering Colin Johnson, a talented receiver who has five-inches of Green. Johnson had just one catch on five targets in the first half, and finished with five catches for 65 yards.
For that matter, the entire secondary seemed to grow up in this game. Ehlinger finished with 283 yards and two touchdowns on the night, but a lot of that came in the second half. Texas’ other go-to receiver, Lil’Jordan Humphrey finished with four catches for 69 yards.
They still have a lot of growing to do, but tonight, the defense took a step forward, especially the secondary.
The Season is (almost) saved
The Cowboys are now 5-3 on the season with four more chances to grab that coveted sixth victory and stretch their 12-year bowl run to 13.
It won’t be easy. Oklahoma State travels to Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU and gets West Virginia at home.
But considering how dire things felt after the loss to Kansas State just two weeks ago, there is some real optimism around the program again. Funny what winning will do for you.
But it wasn’t just that OSU won. It wasn’t a fluky win the Cowboys didn’t deserve. It wasn’t just Texas playing an awful game. This was the Oklahoma State team we expected to see after going 3-0 in non-conference play. This was a team with fire and passion, a team that made fans excited and confident. Yeah, many of us feared a Texas comeback — those are scars that will never go away — but finishing the game the way they did may have been even more impressive than the way game started.
They’re still a win away from six, but this team looks like it has confidence again. That gives me confidence that OSU won’t be sitting at home waiting for 2019 this December.
I was all for a Gundy / Herman showdown at the 50 yard line after this happened. Shirts vs. skins. I’d put all my allowance on Gundy coming away with the W in that battle two.