The #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys entered Saturday’s matchup against Texas Tech with hopes of earning their way into the Big 12 Championship Game. Despite some red zone struggles on the offensive end, the defense put up one of their best performances of the season as the Cowboys moved to 10-1 on the season with a 23-0 victory over the Red Raiders in Lubbock.
The Defense Will Lead the Way
Another week, another defensive performance that somehow continues to shock and awe. Every time the Cowboy defense is faced with a challenge by way of an opposing offense, they stand stiff and hold the line. Last week, the Red Raiders put up 41 points and over 500 yards of offense against Iowa State, who has been pretty stubborn on defense at times. Tech did not have the same success against Oklahoma State, however.
Oklahoma State managed to hold Texas Tech to just 108 yards of offense for the entire game, including a mere 25 rushing yards on 26 carries. The defensive front was busy once again as they got to Red Raider quarterback Donovan Smith 4 times, and in total, the Cowboys racked up 12 tackles for a loss. Adding insult to injury, Tyler Lacy forced a fumble early in the third quarter, which Malcolm Rodriguez recovered for the Cowboys.
The defensive line and linebackers have garnered a ton of attention and credit for the Cowboys defensive successes, but don’t forget about the secondary. The Red Raiders managed to complete just 10-of-31 passes for 83 yards, and only one of those completions was for more than 15 yards.
As a defense, the Cowboys have been relentless. From top to bottom, they have playmakers that do what it takes to get the stops that are necessary to win ball games. Saturday’s performance was one of the best ones in Oklahoma State history, though. It was the first time since 1995 that the Cowboys have shutout an opponent on the road, and it was the first time since 1987 that Texas Tech was shutout at home.
Bedlam is this weekend, and the Oklahoma Sooners have a pretty dynamic offense. It’s going to be exciting to see perhaps the best Oklahoma State defense of all time perform in one of the biggest games in the history of Cowboy football.
Don’t Sweat the Offense
Spencer Sanders and the Cowboy offense made it into the red zone 6 different times, and they scored on 5 of those. Still, Oklahoma State managed just 23 points. So what’s the deal?
When you take a look at the stats, everything except those red zone numbers appears to be fine. Sanders didn’t throw the ball with incredible accuracy, completing just half of his passes (19-of-38), but he did rack up 239 passing yards and a touchdown to John Paul Richardson. On the ground, Sanders ran for 48 yards and a touchdown on just 6 carries. Dominic Richardson shouldered the primary load on the ground with 20 carries for 84 yards, but as a team, the Cowboys racked up 188 yards rushing on 48 carries for a 3.9 yard per carry average. That’s not bad at all.
Stats need context, however, and when you take a deeper look, it’s obvious that personnel is obviously a reason for the slight success instead of the extreme success of the offense. The Cowboys were without two starters on the offensive line (Danny Godslevske and Josh Sills), Jaylen Warren’s carries were limited, and Brennan Presley did not see a lot of field time. I don’t think it’s much to worry about moving forward, but that explains some of the sputtering of the offense.
When it came down to it, guys made the plays necessary to win. Early in the fourth quarter, Spencer Sanders scampered for a touchdown to put the Cowboys up 23-0, and if the game wasn’t thoroughly in hand before that, it definitely was after the fact.
With attention now moving to the Sooners, the Cowboys can strategize and figure out what works best offensively. Oklahoma had a good weekend defensively, holding off the Iowa State Cyclones, but it’s fair to say they have plenty of weakness that can be exposed. The Cowboys need to go into Bedlam with an aggressive game plan. It would bode well if they can take control early and put their foot on the gas pedal for an entire game
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Bedlam would feature two teams with a 10-1 record, I wouldn’t have believed you.
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that one of the teams entering Bedlam has already clinched a spot int he Big 12 Championship Game, and that team is Oklahoma State, I wouldn’t have believed you.
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Oklahoma State is entering Bedlam with the remaining possibility of making the College Football Playoff, I wouldn’t have believed.
Yet here we are.
It’s safe to say that neither team’s season has gone quite as expected. Oklahoma State wasn’t expected to win more than 7 or 8 games, while Oklahoma came in with the Heisman favorite in Spencer Rattler and the a clear-cut favorite to make it in the College Football Playoff. But things have changed.
The Cowboys maintain one of the best defenses in the country, the offense has seemingly turned a corner and is starting to put up points, and even the kicking game is coming together. Their success is trending upward. Oklahoma, meanwhile, has struggled to beat most opponents, and they don’t look like a team that is putting things together to play their best football of the season.
When it all comes down to it, Oklahoma State has a better team who has a better resumé and who is playing better football.
When it all comes down to it, Oklahoma State should be favored to win this game.
When it all comes down to it, however, none of that matters. This is Bedlam. All bets are off. So get your popcorn ready because Saturday’s Bedlam might be one for the ages.