One week after being upset by the Horned Frogs of TCU, Oklahoma State looked to avenge the loss, but it is rarely an easy task to take on the Texas Tech Raiders in Lubbock on a Saturday Night.
The Cowboys started off the game with a fire in their eyes as the defense held the Red Raider offense to a three-and-out. On the ensuing possession, the Cowboys marched six plays for 68 yards in under two minutes to get on the board first as Mason Rudolph found James Washington for a touchdown on a 14-yard pass.
The Oklahoma State defense held strong again and forced Tech to punt the ball, and it looked like the game might start to get out of hand. The Cowboy offense was once again moving the ball with ease before Rudolph threw an interception deep in Red Raider territory, which Damarcus Fields returned 95 yards for a touchdown.
Rudolph did not let the interception get inside his head on the next possession as he directed the offense another 61 yards before coming up short. Matt Ammendola was brought in to kick a field goal, but he hit the right upright and missed the attempt. Texas Tech took over from their own 20-yard line and marched all 80 yards to score as Nic Shimonek found Dylan Cantrell on a 3-yard pass at the beginning of the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead.
After three straight possessions deep inside Texas Tech territory and only seven points to show for it, the Cowboy offense came out guns ablaze once again as Mason Rudolph kept his cool and led the Oklahoma State offense 75 yards down the field to tie the game up at 14-14 off a 5-yard touchdown pass to Justice Hill.
Oklahoma State then forced Texas Tech to punt before the offense moved another 88 yards to go up 21-14 as Rudolph threw his third touchdown pass of the half on a 4-yard toss to a wide open Jalen McCleskey.
The Red Raiders took over possession with just under four minutes to play in the first half, and they went to work as they moved the ball down to the Oklahoma State 9-yard line with 33 seconds on the clock. The Cowboy defense held the Red Raiders, despite a pass interference penalty which moved Tech up to the Oklahoma State two. Texas Tech kicked a field goal as time expired to make the halftime score 21-17 in favor of the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State started off the second half with the ball, and Mason Rudolph went right back to work as he capped an 8-play 75-yard drive with an 8-yard rushing touchdown to push the Cowboy lead to 28-17. The entire possession barely took over two minutes off the clock.
The Red Raiders were in desperate need of an answer, but the Cowboy defense locked in and forced a punt, which Devin Harper blocked, giving Oklahoma State a first and goal at the Texas Tech nine-yard line. Unfortunately, the offense stalled and was forced to kick a field goal, giving the Cowboys a 31-17 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Texas Tech came out moving the ball as they found themselves with a first and goal on the three-yard line, but Oklahoma State held strong once again and forced the Red Raiders to kick a field goal, cutting the Cowboy lead to 31-20. The Cowboys would answer with a field goal of their own after a 6-play, 63-yard drive stalled, making it 34-20 midway through the third quarter.
The Red Raiders looked like their old selves as they moved the ball 70 yards down the field to score a touchdown off a 1-yard run by Justin Stockton to trim Oklahoma State’s lead to 34-27 just a few seconds into the final quarter. On the following kickoff, Texas Tech surprised Oklahoma State with an onside kick, which they recovered. The Red Raiders had the ball on the Cowboy 14-yard line after a personal foul penalty, and despite having all the momentum in the stadium, Oklahoma State defensive end Jordan Brailford intercepted Nic Shimonek to give the ball back to the Cowboys 14 minutes left in the game and a 7-point lead.
The Cowboys were unable to move the ball after back-to-back dropped passes on second and third down, so Zach Sinor was brought on to punt, giving the ball back to the Red Raiders on their own 49-yard line with just under 13 minutes left in the game. It took Texas Tech seven plays and less than three minutes to tie the game up at 34-34 after a 1-yard touchdown run by Desmond Nisby.
Just when the Cowboys looked like they were going to completely meltdown, the offense put together another impressive drive which featured several big pass plays and a 13-yard run by Rudolph, but the Red Raider defense held strong and forced a short field goal attempt which hit the right upright for the second time of the night.
With just 5:30 left in a tie game, Texas Tech took over from their own 20, but after failing to get anything going, they were forced to punt, giving Oklahoma State the ball at their own 21 with 3:21 to go in the game. Mason Rudolph kept the magic alive for the Cowboys as he orchestrated the most important possession of the game and capped it off with a 16-yard touchdown run to give Oklahoma State a 41-34 lead with 1:12 left on the clock.
The Cowboy defense made all the right plays in their final drive for the night as they stopped the Red Raiders from scoring. Mason Rudolph took a knee for the final play of the game to run the clock out, and the Cowboys came away with a 41-34 win.
Three Quick Thoughts
- The Defense is Improving: But it still needs (a lot of) work. Texas Tech has had one of the most prolific offenses in the country for a while now, but Oklahoma State did a decent job on the day at getting stops. Twice the Cowboys held the Red Raiders to field goals when Tech had a first and goal inside the Oklahoma State five. The Cowboys allowed the Red Raiders to convert just 5/11 on third down after allowing TCU to convert 11/19 last week. The defensive line dominated the ground game, giving up only 54 rushing yards, but Nic Shimonek threw for 330 yards and a touchdown on 29/46 passing. Shutting down the ground game is key for the defense, but if the secondary is unable to get stops, the Cowboys will struggle against better teams, namely Oklahoma.
- The Run Game is Legit: Justice Hill looked like something special last year as he led all freshmen in the NCAA with over 1100 yards rushing, and he continues to impress this season. Tonight, he led the ground game for the Cowboys with 164 yards on 30 carries as Oklahoma State rushed for 221 yards on the day. Finding success on the ground was and will continue to be important for the Cowboys as it makes the passing game even more dangerous.
- Mason Rudolph’s Heisman Campaign is Not Dead: After a pretty terrible game last week against TCU, easily one of the worst of his career, Mason Rudolph played his tail off. Rudolph threw for 376 yards on 27/38 passing for three touchdowns, and he rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. His only blemish for the night was an awful throw which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, but aside from that, he was pretty solid, and he came up clutch when it was needed. While he may not exactly be near the top of the Heisman hopeful standings, he should still be considered a dark horse for the award.
The Cowboys get a break next week as they look forward to taking on the Baylor Bears at home on Saturday, October 14. The Bears have started the season 0-5, something they haven’t done since 1978, but they gave Oklahoma a bit of a challenge last weekend in Waco, so who knows what they’re capable of. The time for kickoff has yet to be announced, but it will likely be an early game as Baylor is not exactly a primetime opponent.