The no. 8 Oklahoma State Cowboys wrapped up their non-conference schedule with a dominating 63-7 victory over the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions. The result was the 11th consecutive home victory for the Cowboys, a new school record. While it’s hard to effectively evaluate your team when there’s a clear advantage in every area of the game, the Cowboys have plenty to be excited about as they head into a week off to prepare for a tough Big 12 opener against Baylor.
Special Teams Does Special Things
First off, hats off to the special teams tonight. They truly were special, and in a game where you hope to limit mistakes, they went above and beyond and put together some incredible highlights.
Just a few minutes into the game, Trace Ford blocked a punt, and then he proceeded to recover the punt for a scoop and score. The touchdown put the Cowboys up 14-0 early, and it was pretty obvious that this game was going to get out of hand rather quickly.
Later at the end of the first quarter, shortly after going up 28-0, Tanner Brown squibbed the kickoff, which bounced off a Golden Lion returner, and the loose ball was promptly recovered by Lamont Brown, giving the Cowboys incredible field position. The offense turned the opportunity into yet another touchdown, giving Oklahoma State a 35-0 lead early in the second quarter.
A couple of possessions later, the Golden Lions finally managed to put together some positive yardage, and just as they were to attempt what should have been a pretty easy 39-yard field goal, Sione Asi blocked the kick. Korie Black recovered the blocked kick and returned it for a touchdown, giving Oklahoma State a 42-0 lead.
That was all before halftime.
I don’t think the Cowboys will see a ton of special teams touchdowns this season, and it’s highly unlikely they manage to get two in the same game again, but tonight’s performance has to at least get you thinking that maybe they can be pretty special after all.
Spencer Sanders Makes It Look Easy
When the opposing defense is clearly another level below you, it shouldn’t be that difficult to score points. Sometimes, the best thing is just getting in, getting the win, and getting out without making too many mistakes. Spencer Sanders did above and beyond all of that, and he barely played more than the first quarter.
Sanders put together a solid performance against the Golden Lions, completing 13-of-16 passes for 242 yards and 4 touchdowns. He didn’t run the ball as much as he had in the first two games of the season, just two attempts for -1 yard, but the fact is that it wasn’t necessary.
Spencer Sanders is quietly becoming an efficient quarterback with a solid arm, and he’s already proven that he can use his feet to get his team what they need. As conference competition begins, a lot of eyes are going to be on Sanders to see just how far he can take this team in his final season in Stillwater.
Credit Gunnar Gundy and the Backups
Backup quarterback Gunnar Gundy got off to a rough start, throwing an interception on just his third attempt. He quickly shook it off, however, and proved just why he had earned the backup spot.
Gundy finished the game completing 12-of-20 passes for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he had a couple of solid runs as he racked up 42 yards on 6 attempts. He probably won’t see too much playing time the rest of the season, but Cowboy fans should be excited to see this young man take over the helm after Spencer Sanders is gone at the end of this season.
Defense Continues to Improve
Look. I get it. Arkansas-Pine Bluff is legitimately the worst team the Cowboys have seen in a while. Still, Oklahoma State’s defense did a lot of good things, even after the game was clearly in hand.
On the night, the Golden Lions managed just 230 yards of total offense. They finished 5-of-19 on third down, and despite a 15-minute time of possession advantage, they ran just 7 more plays than the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State has some tough offenses to take on in future weeks, and hopefully the performance against Arkansas-Pine Bluff gave them some necessary confidence moving forward.
Bye Week Ahead of Baylor Matchup
Oklahoma State has looked solid through their first three weeks of the 2022 season, and now they get a week off before they head into 9 straight weeks of conference play. The Cowboys pick up right where they left off in the Big 12 in 2021 as they travel down to Waco, Texas to take on the reigning Big 12 Champs in Baylor.
The Baylor Bears moved to 2-1 on the season as they dominated Texas State 42-7 on Saturday. The Bears suffered a 26-20 loss in overtime last week against Brigham Young, and they will take on Iowa State next week before hosting Oklahoma State on October 1st. Kickoff for the game is yet to be announced, but I would expect a solid time slot considering it will be a top-25 matchup.