The Oklahoma State Cowboys took an early 7-0 lead against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, and they looked ready to make it a two-score lead before halftime. Tulsa had other plans, however, as Spencer Sanders threw a pick 6, and all of a sudden it was 7-7 at the break.
Tulsa jumped ahead in the second half 14-7, but 3 Cowboy touchdowns in the 4th quarter was enough for Oklahoma State to finish on top 28-23 and stay undefeated after a couple of close games to kickoff the 2021 campaign.
Let the Playmakers Make Plays
Last week, Oklahoma State’s offense sputtered in the second half, and the first half today was pretty much the same thing. The play calling was boring, the offensive line struggled, and the Cowboys just couldn’t get anything going.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the offense started making plays. Part of the problem was solved once the play calling shifted. I don’t know if offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn had an epiphany on the sideline, but it was refreshing to see some creativity. On top of the play call shift, guys were able to make plays because they were put into position to make plays. Crazy how that works, huh?
The Cowboys started the 4th quarter trailing 14-7, and a 3rd and 13 at the Tulsa 16 was somewhat of a must-score. Sanders hit freshman receiver Bryson Green, who made one of the most spectacular touchdown catches by a freshman perhaps ever.
After holding Tulsa to a field goal on the next possession, LD Brown took the ensuing kickoff and took it 98 yards to the house, giving Oklahoma State back the lead in a crucial moment.
The Cowboy defense forced a 3 and out on the next possession, and this time, it was Jaylen Warren who made an incredible run to find the end zone. Warren has already made a reputation for himself of shedding tacklers and turning a negative yardage situation into a positive one. He did that yet again as it appeared he was about to be brought down in the backfield, but instead, Warren was able to break several would-be tacklers to make a move on a couple of more defenders before squeaking in for a touchdown.
Simply put, if Kasey Dunn would get out of his own way and just let the playmakers make some plays, the offense would be in a lot better situation instead of having to play from behind.
Spencer Sanders Still Needs Work
This game was nothing short of the full Spencer Sanders experience. After starting off the game 1-for-6 (16.7%) through the air, Sanders went 14-for-20 (70.0%) the rest of the way to finish 15-for-26 (57.7%) for 2 touchdowns and an interception.
On the ground, Sanders led the team with 62 yards on 10 carries. A 37-yard romp was a big momentum shift, but it required a little luck after he had the ball poked loose at the end of the run. Thankfully the Tulsa defender recovered it while out of bounds, so the ball stayed with the Cowboys.
Finally, in perhaps the most important play of the game, Sanders turned a 3rd and 8 with 2:10 left in the game into a first down by breaking out for a 9-yard run and a first down. The run put Sanders’s athletic ability on full display, and ultimately, it helped him end a rough day on a positive note.
The Defense Deserves the Game Ball
For the first 3 quarters of the game, the Cowboy offense was unable to come up with more than 7 points. Oklahoma State has a reputation of being one of the prolific scoring teams in modern Division 1 football, but that has not been the case over the last couple of years. The stagnant offense was nearly the downfall in today’s game, but the Cowboy defense did what they do best, and they stepped up long enough to keep their team in the game.
Despite not forcing a single turnover, the Cowboys put plenty of pressure on Tulsa early, sacking quarterback Davis Brin twice in the first half and tackling Golden Hurricane players 6 times for a loss. Malcolm Rodriguez added another 13 tackles, his second consecutive week to lead the team.
If the defense doesn’t do as good of a job as they did early against Tulsa, then there’s a very good chance that the Cowboys are having to play from behind for too long, perhaps too long to recover.
Next Saturday, the Cowboys head out for their first road game as they travel all the way to Idaho to take on Boise State. The Broncos dropped their season opener to the University of Central Florida 36-31, but they rebounded with a big 54-13 win yesterday.
Kickoff is scheduled for a bit later than your typical Saturday showdown, and the Cowboys and Broncos will go to work next Saturday, September 18th at 8 PM CT. The Game will be televised on FS1.