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10 Thoughts On Oklahoma State’s 44-20 Win Over Kansas

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Oklahoma State held on early and torched Kansas late nabbing three turnovers and riding freshman Justice Hill to its fifth win of the season. There was more angst than Mark Mangino at a Souper Salad in the first two quarters, but OSU did what OSU has done for several years now: Played poorly for long stretches against bad teams but still won handily at the end.

The Pokes actually hit the spread (-24) right on the nose with Chris Carson’s final touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter and a game that felt incongruent at halftime was put to bed with a little juice heading for Homecoming next week. Let’s take a look at 10 Thoughts on OSU and Kansas.

1. Justice Hill is a star

He has been a star for a while now, and he’s only solidifying it with every 100-yard rushing game he posts. He had 22 carries for 162 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown on Saturday against Kansas. Kansas is No. 94 nationally in yards allowed per carry so I’m not going to lose my mind here, but it has become clear that Hill has the potential to be one of the best in the Mike Gundy Era.

Also, quick shoutout to Chris Carson for an equally-strong day in his return from a broken hand (he also had 7.4 YPC). His ceiling sort of is what it is, and he’s had terrific days against bad teams (UTSA last year) so I’m not as excited about the rest of his career as, say, Hill. But he still has a legitimate role on this team for the rest of the season.

2. This is Who We are

I do love the weekly “we gotta fire everybody, quit playing football and burn the school down lest we are unable to harvest the grounds for wheat two years from now because OSU just went three and out” outrage on Twitter.

(actually I do not love that at all)

Here’s the reality: OSU is a good football team that is 5-2 (and should be 6-1) with a chance to win eight or nine games. Everything doesn’t have to be the best or worst thing in all of college athletics history.

What evidence do we have in the last three years that this team is going to be a team that houses bad opponents early and often on the road? Zero. There is none. Is that frustrating? Absolutely. Do I wish it was different? Yes, I wish the Oil Baron was playing entire halves.

But at what point do we just start expecting to be in close games for 30-40 minutes against crappy teams like Kansas? Why do we act more surprised than Kansas’ basketball players the first time they saw Bill Self without his toupee on every week it happens?

3. It’s always Been About turnovers

Always has been. Always will be. Oklahoma State is now 48-6 when it creates three or more turnovers in the Mike Gundy Era. The flip side to this is that playing a high-risk, high-reward defense is a. poor for the health of your fans b. really bad when you don’t get those turnovers.

Kansas was marching all over OSU’s defense at times on Saturday. It should have scored a TD on this insane three-lateral play, but instead OSU did what OSU does, flipped the field and scored 17 points off turnovers. For most teams, I would say this is untenable. For OSU, it’s commonplace. Just be sure to renew your heart medicine prescription.

4. OSU was actually not that bad on offense …

Oklahoma State averaged 3.14 points per drive on offense today.

The No. 12 team in the nation averages 3.12 points per drive (#FireYurcich). It’s not always pretty, but Yurcich and Co. somehow always figure out a way to put up points. And yes, I know it was Kansas. Kansas also allows just 2.85 points per drive so you were better than the average team against them.

5. … the offense also got a lot of help from its defense

Oklahoma State’s drives started on its own 42 on average. That’s a crazy number. Mason Rudolph was nearly trotting out to midfield on average. OSU’s defense was throwing its offense some absolute softballs. In the second half, OSU started with the ball inside Kansas’ 30 three times.

My biggest issue with the offense is that sometimes it feels like it’s trying to do too much. There was a ridiculous delay of game with 8:30 left in the second quarter that screamed “our playbook used to be eight plays and now it’s 800 and we don’t know what to run!”

And I get it. Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken were better coordinators. There’s a reason they went on to become head coaches. I understand that this O doesn’t have the beauty of a Holgorsen-coached one. But it does seem to always figure out how to put up points when it needs them most, and that should count for something.

6. Jalen McCleskey might be this team’s soul

James Washington was virtually nonexistent on Saturday. He was rarely targeted by Mason Rudolph, and even when he was, it did not go well.

On the other hand, Jalen McCleskey caught six passes for 129 yards and gave Mason Rudolph a lift when he needed it.

He is not this team’s best player (Washington). He is not its heartbeat (Rudolph). But he, along with Jordan Sterns, might be its soul. Take them away and you still have something, but it’s not as full-bodied as it could be.

7. The Blizzard and Tommie Frazier II

I have nicknamed DeQuinton Osborne “The Blizzard” and Carson says Vincent Taylor is the next Tommie Frazier. Three — three! — Oklahoma State defensive linemen got touches in the second half between Osborne’s slick pick and Jordan Sterns’ pitch to Taylor who pitched it to Jarrell Owens. That’s the same number of touches James Washington had on offense.

All of that led to this amazing stat.

8. Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield …

I’m scared.

Ramon can’t set enough phone alarms for me to not be terrified of what they’re going to do to this secondary. Montrell Cozart (!!) threw for 250 yards (and it really should have been 320 if homeboy hadn’t taken one off the facemask for Sterns to take the other way). His previous career high in a Big 12 game was 150 against Iowa State last year.

Montrell Cozart (MONTRELL COZART!) lit up OSU’s secondary so bad I thought Mary Fallin might institute a burn ban in northern Oklahoma for the rest of the month. What are Mahomes and Mayfield going to do?

9. Mason Rudolph — good, not great

I thought Rudolph was all right on Saturday. He didn’t throw it away, leaned on No. 27 and protected what his defense gave him. His stats don’t wow you (16/24 for 220 yards and a TD), but it’s more disconcerting that an inability of OSU’s receivers to get open led to five sacks and a loss of 31 yards.

One of Rudolph’s best qualities is field awareness and checking down, and he just had nothing going on. If you’re Mike & Mike you have to have Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D-Z for getting No. 28 open or using him as a high-level decoy. You can’t just say, “welp, KU is bracketing him so I guess we just better run it 65 times” against better defenses.

10. No. 100 vs. Dana would be so sweet

People will poo poo on this, but a 24-point win in Lawrence is a 24-point win in Lawrence. Do I wish it would have been 74-10? I do. But OSU whipping Kansas 27-7 in the second half gives it a little momentum going into the Homecoming game against West Virginia next week.

And there would be nothing better than Jhajuan Seales and Tre Flowers dumping a Gatorade bucket of Red Bull on the head ball coach, lifting him to the skies and letting him crowdsurf the student section as OSU celebrates not only Homecoming but hopefully ruining West Virginia’s perfect season.

I know today was supposed to be win No. 100 (or No. 101), but few scenarios could be better than beating an old pal at home to hop back into the Big 12 title race. Onto the next one.

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