Oklahoma State had an extra week to prepare for Baylor, who also had an off week, and the Cowboys looked a little sleepy to start the game, but they finished strong as they defeated the Bears 59-16.
The Pokes kicked off to Baylor to start the game, and the Bears spent the first six-and-a-half minutes of the game running the ball and controlling the field to get inside the Cowboy 10-yard line. Baylor quarterback Zach Smith scrambled to the 3-yard line before Oklahoma State linebacker Justin Phillips forced a fumble. Fortunately for the Bears, running back Trestan Ebner recovered in the end zone for the touchdown to give Baylor a 7-0 lead early.
Oklahoma State came out on offense as Mason Rudolph managed to get the Cowboys to midfield, but they were forced to punt. The Cowboy defense stiffened up quickly and forced Baylor into a three-and-out situation. Jalen McCleskey was back to return the punt for Oklahoma State, but with the wind blowing strongly, he muffed it, allowing the Bears to recover. On the very next play, Justin Phillips sacked Zach Smith and forced yet another fumble as teammate Cole Walterscheid recovered. The Cowboys looked to tie it up, and on 4th-and-1 at midfield, Justice Hill ran the ball to earn the first down. Two plays later, Mason Rudolph found Marcell Ateman open on the sideline, and after catching the ball, Ateman shed a defensive back to take the pass 38-yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
The Cowboys defense continued to look strong on the next possession as Justin Phillips once again made a big play by tackling Trestan Ebner in the backfield for a 2-yard loss on third down. Baylor was forced to punt, giving Oklahoma State the ball on their own 20-yard line. Mason Rudolph found Tyron Johnson for a 17-yard pass and James Washington for a 45-yard bomb to move the ball into the red zone. After a false start, Oklahoma State faced a 3rd and 15 before Rudolph found Jalen McCleskey for a 25-yard strike to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead.
After allowing 14 straight points from the Cowboys, Baylor needed a score to maintain some momentum before the game got out of hand. The Bears started the second quarter off strong as they went back to what was so successful in their first possession and started running the ball and taking time off the clock. Nine plays and five-and-a-half minutes later, Baylor faced a third and six at the Oklahoma State 20-yard line, but the Cowboy defense held on, forcing the Bears to kick a field goal and narrowing the score to 14-10 in favor of Oklahoma State.
It took Oklahoma State just two plays to put more points on the board as Justice Hill scampered 79 yards, a career-long for him, for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 21-10 lead midway through the second quarter.
Oklahoma State’s defense continued to find its stride as it locked in and forced another Baylor three-and-out. On the first two plays of the drive for the Cowboys, Mason Rudolph found Marcell Ateman, first for eight yards, and then again for 33 yards, to get Oklahoma State to midfield. After two plays that yielded nothing beneficial for the Cowboys, Rudolph went back to Ateman once again, this time for 40 yards, to get Oklahoma State to the Baylor 1-yard line. Rudolph took a couple of hits on second down, but he found his way into the end zone to push the lead to 28-10 with just over five minutes to go in the first half.
With desperation setting in, Baylor needed a sense of urgency to try to find a way to put some points on the board, but the Oklahoma State defense continued to pressure Zach Smith as Calvin Bundage tackled a scrambling Zach Smith on third and long to force a punt with just three minutes left in the first half. Oklahoma State looked to the run early as they moved the ball easily, but it was Mason Rudolph’s 43-yard bomb to James Washington which put the ball just inside the 1-yard line. Freshman J.D. King found the end zone as he powered it up the middle to put the Cowboys ahead 35-10 at the half.
The Cowboys started off the second half sloppily as they were whistled for an illegal block on the kickoff return, and then James Washington hauled in a deep pass before he was stripped of the ball. Baylor recovered at their own 21-yard line, and then they proceeded to march all the way to the Oklahoma State 22-yard line before the Cowboys stopped the Bears on 3rd and 9. Baylor was forced to kick a field goal, which narrowly cut into the Cowboy lead 35-13.
On the ensuing offensive possession, the Oklahoma State offense was able to move the ball down the field into the red zone before Mason Rudolph was unable to connect on consecutive passes, so the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal from Matt Amendola, which pushed the lead to 38-13. Baylor would then put together a solid drive as they found themselves on the Oklahoma State 14-yard line with a good chance to score a touchdown. The Cowboy defense would continue its dominance as they held the Bears to yet another field goal, making it 38-16 in favor of the Cowboys with seven minutes left in the third quarter. On just the second drive of the next possession, Mason Rudolph and James Washington went to work quickly as they hooked up on a 68-yard touchdown to push the Cowboy lead to 45-18.
The Cowboys kept the ball rolling as they put together a 13-play, 83-yard touchdown drive as Mason Rudolph connected with James Washington on a misdirection swing pass for Washington’s second score of the day. The touchdown would give Oklahoma State their largest lead of the day at 52-16.
The rest of the fourth quarter went much like the entire game had gone: in favor of Oklahoma State. The Cowboy defense was relentless, forcing both Zach Smith and backup quarterback Charlie Brewer to throw interceptions on back-to-back possessions. In between the interceptions, backup quarterback for Oklahoma State Taylor Cornelius checked in, and on the third play of the drive, he broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown run to give Oklahoma State a 59-16 lead.
3 Quick Thoughts
- This Defense Can Lock Down: After a shaky first possession, the Cowboys really locked in on defense, allowing just three field goals the rest of the way. Justin Phillips was an absolute star early as he forced two fumbles, one of which was recovered, and he finished the game with five tackles (one for loss) and one sack. Safety Thabo Mwaniki and Linebacker Gyasi Akem were responsible for the two interceptions, and as a whole, the Cowboy defense held Baylor to 387 yards of total offense (168 passing, 219 rushing), which is slightly below their average. Perhaps the most impressive defensive stat for the Cowboys was holding Baylor to 7-18 (39%) on third down. Despite having possession for more than 10 minutes longer than Oklahoma State, Baylor was simply not able to put points on the board consistently as the Cowboys were able to get stops time and time again.
- This Offense is Full of Star Power: No matter where you look on the Cowboy offense, there’s somebody capable of making a play. Mason Rudolph finished the day 19-31 for 459 yards (fourth all-time for a single-game at Oklahoma State) and 3 touchdowns. Also, for the fourth straight game, both James Washington and Marcell Ateman broke the 100-yard receiving mark. Washington finished with 235 yards receiving and two touchdowns (one receiving, one rushing), and Ateman had 119 yards receiving and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, Justice Hill ran for 117 yards on 14 attempts for a single touchdown, and as a team, the Cowboys ran for 276 yards, giving Oklahoma State 747 yards of total offense.
- This Team Needs to Prove Itself: So far this season, the Cowboys have beaten the teams they should have beaten, and they have struggled against actual competition. TCU marched into Stillwater and pulled off the upset, and Texas Tech was a worthy foe in a Saturday night matchup in Lubbock. Simply put, Oklahoma State needs to prove that they are for real and show up in their next few games against Texas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma.
Next week, Oklahoma State (5-1) takes on Texas (3-3) in Austin. The Longhorns are coming off a close loss to the Oklahoma Sooners, and they will surely be looking to rebound. The Longhorns own the all-time record against the Cowboys 24-7, but Oklahoma State has won five of the last seven, include the last four consecutive matchups in Austin. The time of kickoff has yet to be announced.