Oklahoma State fell in Waco on Saturday to Baylor 35-31 on a last-second touchdown after leading for much of the second half. Charlie Brewer found Denzel Mims with seven seconds left as the Pokes lost for the third time in their last four games (and sure, of course the only win in that span of time was against the No. 6 team in the country).
OSU was plagued by penalties throughout as it racked up 133 yards against, which ranks as the third-most (!) of the Mike Gundy era dating back to 2005 (only Arizona in 2012 and Troy in 2010 saw more). Then the defense failed late as it gave up TDs on Baylor’s final three drives.
Despite all of that, the Pokes still had a chance to win the game by going for it on fourth down with 90 seconds left. Unfortunately this happened.
We’ll get to the 10 Thoughts but first let’s pay tribute to our sponsor, Thrive Landscape and Irrigation.
1. Final Three Drives
How about that closing kick from both teams? After wilting late against Texas Tech and Kansas State (and sort of against Texas, even though the circumstances were far different), OSU scored touchdowns on three of its final four drives. The biggest one for me was the one that split the fourth quarter in half and made it 31-21 on a Justice TD. Here were OSU’s plays on that drive (which started on OSU’s 21 yard line).
- Justice rush for 18
- Justice rush for 6
- Chuba rush for 6
- Chuba rush for 2
- Chuba rush for 8
- Incompletion to Tylan
- King rush for 4
- Justice rush for 3
- Corn rush for 4
- Corn sack for -7
- Justice rush for 14
- Corn to Tylan for 10
- Incompletion to Tylan
- Corn rush for 7
- Pass interference
- Justice TD
The full monty! That’s 15 plays for 79 yards in a little over six minutes with all three backs heavily involved. It was a clinic. And it punctuated a three-drive stretch that OSU badly needed.
Unfortunately Baylor strung together three straight TDs of its own as it ran 17 plays for 216 yards and 21 points over the final 15:25. How much different is this outcome if A.J. Green makes the tackle in the backfield on the John Lovett score or OSU doesn’t get three (!) 15-yard penalties on Baylor’s final three drives? The bummer of an answer is probably: “a lot different.”
2. All the Penalties (Part 1)
If we’re measuring it by penalties, OSU’s talent-to-discipline ratio has to be among the worst in Big 12 history. They came into this game No. 106 in the country in penalty yards per game and surpassed their own averages by a healthy (unhealthy?) margin.
This is the part I just don’t understand. It seems like every week we hear Gundy preach from the podium that OSU has to be more disciplined and cleaner, and each week it doesn’t seem to work.
Here’s a look at the most penalized OSU games in the Gundy era.
3. All the Penalties (Part 2)
Gundy noted in his postgame presser that he felt like OSU’s penalties sustained drives throughout the game. So I went back and looked at all 12 of them.
- Penalty 1: Drive ended with a TD
- Penalty 2: Drive ended with missed FG
- Penalty 3: Drive ended with a TD
So that’s 14 points scored despite three penalties. No harm, no foul.
- Penalties 1/2: Drive ended with missed FG
- Penalties 3/4: Drive ended with a TD
- Penalties 5/6 Drive ended with TO on downs (despite two third down penalties!)
- Penalties 7/8: Drive ended with a TD
- Penalty 9: Drive ended with a TD
OSU tried to hand Baylor a TD on penalties 5 and 6 (the Trey Carter roughing the passer and an offsides, not to mention a pass interference that negated a holding!) but Baylor wouldn’t take it.
They took two after that in the fourth quarter, though, as an A.J. Green facemask, Calvin Bundage personal foul and Malcolm Rodriguez pass interference all led to Baylor points.
I asked Gundy after the game if they discuss how tight or loose the game is being called while it’s happening, and he put that responsibility on his players’ shoulders.
“That’s not something we know because we can’t see a lot of times,” said Gundy. “So I didn’t have any problem with officiating. I thought it was fine. We just didn’t play very disciplined football.”
4. Bend and Bend and Bend and … Break
The Cowboy defense was back to its bend-but-don’t-break ways through three quarters on Saturday as it allowed Baylor into the red zone five times but kept them from scoring in three of those. Unfortunately for them, they both bent and broke late in the day as a defense ranked No. 90 coming into the game in points allowed per drive (2.5) was worse than its average (2.9).
We love to talk about the offense and Corn and Yurcich and everything that goes along with that — and there’s something in there that’s fair — but ultimately this team is losing because it has taken a slight step back at QB and an even bigger step back on the defensive side of the ball.
5. Chuba + Tyron Usage
OSU has been a team that has ostensibly relied on No. 5 and No. 2 for the better part of the season, but things have shifted a bit in the past few games. After Chuba had a mini coming out party (maybe a peeking out of the window party) against Texas, Mike & Mike rode him hard early against Baylor. They flipped it back to Justice (and J.D.!) late, but it’s clear that a big part of the plan now revolves around the Hubbard Telescope.
Similarly, Corndog seemed locked onto Tyron like I was locked onto the biggest coffee I could find on the drive down to Waco on Saturday morning. This is a good thing! Here’s a look at the usage of those two compared to OSU’s two bellcows.
- Wide Receiver: Tyron — 14 targets | Tylan — 14 targets
- Running Back: Chuba — 11 overall touches | Justice — 20 overall touches
6. Special Teams, Back
After a few weeks of reprieve (and even trickeration!), OSU’s special teams plans once again looked like they were thrown together on the bus ride over from the hotel to the game.
In the first half alone they had a punt blocked for a TD and missed field goals from 45 and 48 yards. It wasn’t a very pretty outing for a unit that needs to be clean for Oklahoma State to thrive in the Big 12.
While we’re here, Matt Ammendola has missed four of his last six after starting the season 11 for his first 12. Bombs off the Brazos River with a two-club wind are maybe not the most fair barometer, but somebody who was locked in for the first half of the year has become an eyebrow raise in the past few games.
7. Peel + Rodriguez
I’m going to ignore poor Malcolm Rodriguez getting his jock shaken off on Lovett’s long TD score at the end of the third (and that 👀 PI on the final drive) and instead focus on how well he and Kolby Peel played for most of the day. The duo combined for 18 tackles (which ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on the team on Saturday) and played beyond their respective ages.
8. Corn Stock
I did not come into this game thinking that Corndaddy would have more targets than Jelani Woods, but here we are. As Corn’s season has progressed, I’ve been struck by two things.
The first is his versatility — they put the game on his legs late last week against Texas, and he ran them home. That’s big boy stuff. Then he threw it 41 times, ran it 12 more and even caught one pass late against Baylor this week.
This not a sexy play, but it’s a good one and one that kept the momentum going downhill at a time when OSU needed it.
The second is his ability to protect the ball. After leading the Big 12 in INTs over the first seven games, he’s curtailed the poor throws into coverage and hasn’t tossed one since the end of the Kansas State game. To be fair here, he hasn’t exactly been dialed in, but he’s at least picking his spots better.
- First seven games: 8 INT
- Last two games: 0 INT
He definitely should have thrown the ball away on that fourth down play, but on a tough throwing day in Waco, I thought he was good enough for OSU to win.
While we’re here: I’m a full thumbs up on going for it on fourth down. It was the right call in the moment given where OSU was on the field, how hard the wind was blowing, how successful it had been on fourth down all day and how much trust it had in its defense at the time. Fully subscribed to that call.
9. Wide Receiver Breadth
Corn and Yurcich did a great job of using all their wideouts differently throughout the day, and it shined a light on the fact that all of OSU’s wideouts are best at something different.
- Stoner: Money catches over the middle.
- Tylan: Mossin’ fools and medium-deep routes in coverage. He’s also the ultimately security blanket as Corn proved late.
- Tyron: The curl route king (as one of our writers called him this afternoon). I liked that a lot.
- Wolf: Sneaking around out of the slot on terrific routes.
- RBs: You can even throw Justice and Chuba in there for creating in space on swing passes if you want to talk about the full showcase.
10. Yurcich Creativity
Mikey Y. started feeling himself late and called two gems. The first was a Tylan TD in which Jelani Woods and Logan Carter lined up out wide and led the way for No. 2.
The second also involved Tylan, and mimicked the first, except that this time No. 2 tossed it back to No. 14 for six.
I’ve been pretty critical of OSU all season for not letting their mullets down, especially on offense, but they’ve done so in perfect spots in each of the last two weeks.
11. (a bonus!) One-Possession Games
After winning 15 of 17 games decided by one possession or less, OSU has now lost two of three. That might be a coincidence. It might be nothing. But like I’ve been saying all season, even a 10 or 15 percent reduction at QB combined with a defense that just can’t figure it out sucks up the margin for error against some of the lesser programs in the Big 12.
I thought Corn was fine on Saturday — not phenomenal but solid for most of the day — but when your offense takes even a slight step back some of the sins of old that were swept under the rug start to get exposed.
We saw how good this OSU team can be last week against Texas. Unfortunately it’s becoming clear that that game was probably an outlier and not the inflection point we all hoped it was.
On to Bedlam.