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10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 30-27 Win Over Texas

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There was no doubt.

……..

[grabs beer]

[goes for walk]

[sits down to clear head]

There was a lot of doubt.

Oklahoma State moved to 4-0 on the young season with an exhausting 30-27 win over Texas on Saturday that culminated in Texas’ second-straight special teams gaffe to lose a game. This time it was a botched snap on a punt with under a minute left in the fourth quarter. Ben Grogan poked one in from 40 yards (really!) and OSU won a game it probably shouldn’t have even been in. Or it should have put away two quarters ago.

It’s hard to tell, really.

I have a lot of thoughts. I have no idea how we’re going to keep this to 10. Buckle up. Here we go.

1. Texas’ offense scored one TD (and two FGs)

How about that? For all the consternation (and there was plenty on my end) over Jerrod Heard and the rejuvenation of the Texas offense, all they could muster against Oklahoma State’s defense was one TD (and Tyrone Swoopes scored it!) and two FGs.

Glenn Spencer’s merry band of would-be warriors clamped down especially hard in the second half, only allowing Texas 48 total yards on 25 plays. The head man was, needless to say, very pleased with his 265-lb. redshirt freshmen chasing down Heard.

After Mason Rudolph threw a pick-six with 17 minutes left in the game, Texas ran 16 plays on offense the rest of the way. Only four of those were in OSU territory (thanks to another Rudolph pick). They gained a total of two yards.

Oklahoma State (clearly) wasn’t great in this game, but its defense saved it over and over in the second half. For everything that happened with Yurcich’s O (and we’ll get to that, trust me), let’s not forget that this Oklahoma State team is going to win games by creating turnovers and shutting high-powered offenses down.

2. What happened with our QBs?

Anthony Weiner has handled his public relations career better than Mike Gundy handled his two quarterbacks in the second half of this game. Look, I get that Mason Rudolph was struggling (no arguments here), but either replace him for the rest of the game and try to eke out the win or ride it out with him and see what happens.

Instead, Mike Yurcich was behind one of the black trunks on the sidelines flipping his lucky Shippensburg silver dollar and yelling out last names for the last 15 minutes (or that’s how it felt). I’m legitimately surprised we didn’t see Taylor Cornelius.

Remember how much I’ve touted the way Mike Gundy has brilliantly used both QBs over the first three games? This was pretty much the opposite of that. OSU brought in Walsh on passing downs and Rudolph on rushing downs, and the entire thing was like watching what would happen if one of us was given a headset (a working one, presumably) and told, “good luck.”

Gundy’s explanation wasn’t even a good one.

Gundy actually noted at halftime that OSU “went away from running the football” at the end of the first half which is why it sort of fell apart at the end of the second quarter. I’m not sure which part of averaging 2.1 yards per carry in the first half Gundy enjoyed, but there was nothing to go back to.

Which leads us to …

3. There is no QB controversy, but there might be one at RB

If anybody but No. 2 starts at QB against Kansas State, we’re going to have some issues. Was Rudolph good on Saturday? Not really. He had his moments, but throwing it away twice and fumbling for another Texas touchdown is not the recipe Gundy and Co. had in mind for this team.

Still, Brandon Weeden had nine games when he threw two or more picks. If you’re clamoring for Walsh in any situation outside of a 4th and 1 or inside the opposing team’s 10-yard-line, you’re not living in reality. This is Mason Rudolph’s team, for better or worse.

As for who he has standing next to him in the backfield … I can’t be the only one who thought Rennie Childs looked better against Texas on Saturday than Chris Carson, can I?

Now, Childs was playing when Texas’ youngsters on defense were already gassed, and the numbers don’t really back it up (Childs had 21 carries for 54 yards, Carson had 12 carries for 39), but at the very least No. 23 should be getting more carries than he’s currently getting.

4. Texas and all … those … flags

Forgive me for not being able to dig down deep in my heart and feel sorrow for Texas, owner of a $15 million-a-year cash cow of a network with all the resources a school could ever fathom at its fingertips, over a few botched calls and unseemly flags.

I’ve spent too many years watching OSU get its proverbial heart ripped out and kabobed by Bevo to feel any sort of empathy for a school that still owes my school $600,000 (allegedly) and that has more 5-star recruits already committed to its 2016 class (probably) than OSU has ever had in its 100+ year history.

Not after what happened in 2004. Not after what happened in 2012. Never, actually.

I just can’t do it.

The worst of the worst came, quite hilariously, at the worst possible time for Texas. No. 95 got called for holding on this play even though it’s pretty clear Victor Salako had him around the neck for pretty much the entire thing.

This led to Charlie Strong getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (good discipline, Chuck) which led to OSU’s game-tying field goal which led to OSU’s game-winning field goal.

Oh, and Texas also had a pretty soft roughing-the-passer penalty overturning a pick deep in OSU territory. Again, I’d like to say I have the capacity to feel bad about all of this. But I don’t.

5. OSU still can’t run the ball

This is a problem. A big one. Texas does not have a great defense. It came into this game 120th in the country in rushing defense per game (240 yards per) and OSU could only muster 103 yards on 46 carries. That is egregious, and Mike Gundy knows it.

The problem? I’m not sure there’s a solution. I think OSU is dedicated to running the ball no matter if teams put 12 men in the box (you never know with Big 12 refs, right?), but those first couple of drives when Santa Yurcich finally took the reins off his reindeer QB were pretty special, weren’t they? On those two drives OSU rushed for 11 yards and threw for 119. I’m not a coach, but it sure seems like you don’t have to run the ball.

Maybe you do. Maybe those passes are only working because teams are still loading up expecting OSU to run the ball. And now you bring into question Rudolph’s ability to hold on to the football a little bit which means a conservative Mike Yurcich is going to make Donald Trump look like Rachel Maddow by comparison over the next few games.

Maybe those short, in-the-flats passes Weeden used to toss to Joe Randle are the solution here. I don’t know. Whatever the case, Gundy is right. OSU is not going to be a threat at the top of the league if it can’t ride Chris Carson and Rennie Childs for stretches. Rudolph is still young and it will remain too easy to pressure him into those high, bad throws he’s shown a propensity for over the first four weeks.

6. That 98-yard drive was sweet

We can bemoan Rudolph for days (and many of you will, I’m sure) but that 98-yard drive in the third quarter was a season saver (for now).

The throw down the sideline to Ateman will make the highlight reels, but this one to Brandon Sheperd out of the end zone Weeden stepped out of back in 2011 was the biggie on third down early in the drive. And bringing Walsh in to close it out was perfect.

That is how the offense is supposed to operate. Not whatever happened in the 4th quarter. But how quickly we forget, right? Folks calling for Rudolph’s head all over social media not 30 minutes after this happened. Come on. The kid is seven games into his college career. He’s going to make a litany of mistakes. That doesn’t mean he’s not still great.

7. Momentum is mighty in CFB

We can stare at all the stats and OKC Dave charts we want, but sometimes — especially for 19-year-old and 21-year-old kids — all that matters is how you’re playing at that very moment. Sometimes these dudes aren’t the robots we make them out to be.

The swings in this game were gut-wrenching.Heck, the swings with Rudolph alone were astonishing.

From OSU looking like Oregon Midwest in the first five minutes to getting run over in the second quarter. From Rudolph slinging it like BWeeds used to early to pulling a Landry Jones in the second.

From Rudolph going 98 yards like a boss in the third to throwing like he’d switched hands in the middle of the fourth. These games happen so fast, but the moments, especially with a young team like OSU has, are so up and down.

The point of this is to say OSU’s defense swallowed up all the momentum at the end of the game and threw it over to Ben Grogan for the tie and the win. When you have a defense that’s capable of destruction like that, it can cover over a multitude of sins on the offensive side. That can be both a false safety net and a great comfort as a fan. The astounding thing was that OSU did all that while creating only one turnover on D.

8. OSU played scared, but Ben Grogan did not

Letting the clock run out at the end of the first half. Running the Bob Simmons Memorial offense for the entire fourth quarter. The throws Rudolph was unloading late in the game. The entire thing was a big jug of “crap, we should have won this game an hour ago, what do we do now?”

So of course OSU puts the game on the foot of its most reliable player, Ben Grogan, who kicks two different field goals to tie it up (after a delay of game penalty) and another to win it. All from 35+ yards. Of course, that was always how this was going to end!

The way Rudolph was throwing it in the fourth quarter was pretty astonishing. As Ubben noted above, that’s partly an OSU issue (don’t bench the franchise) but also partly a “welcome to the Big 12 when you’re not the cute underdog anymore” moment. That’s why I would have liked to have seen Gundy let him weather the storm late instead of panic-subbing the general.

9. Texas’ offensive playbook is thinner than ours

Here are all of Texas’ plays:

1. Let Heard run.
2. Tell Heard to fake the pass and run.
3. Bring Swoopes in to run.
4. Reverse.
5. Backwards pass so our WRs can throw it downfield.
6. Repeat 1.

Heard, at times, reminded me of Vince Young. At other times, he reminded me of Bobby Reid.

But he’s clearly electric. And he’s going to ruin some poor team’s season (I’m hopeful it’s Baylor, TCU and OU … all of them). Which makes what OSU did in the second half on defense even more impressive.

10. It’s now October and OSU is undefeated

When the dust settles on Saturday night, there will likely be fewer than 30 teams in FBS that are 4-0. OSU tied Notre Dame and Haskell (I dunno) for the longest win streaks ever in Austin. Ever. Texas has played football since 1902 and only three teams have ever won four straight there. OSU hasn’t lost in Austin since Dez Bryant and Zac Robinson were in school.

Yes, OSU’s offense was a disaster for the last 23 minutes — 27 plays for 51 yards and two interceptions!! — and its turnover margin was -2 on the day. On the bright side, that’s not going to happen very often and OSU isn’t going to win very often when it does. So you can consider this the steal of the year.

It might make for good social media fodder to poke Mike Yurcich and laugh about how OSU should have throttled a 1-3 Texas team, but that last 15 minutes was monstrous for the trajectory of OSU’s season and everybody knew it. You knew it. I knew it. Mike Gundy knew it. Glenn Spencer knew it. Ben Grogan knew it. Everybody.

Good teams find a way to win poorly-played games and that’s what OSU did on Saturday night. Is this team perfect? No. Is this a great team right now? No. Is it going to win 10 games if it can’t figure out a run game? No.

But it is strong-willed and long on potential. And it has a six-game winning streak with Kansas State on deck in Stillwater. Sometimes in college football, all you can ask for is to get to the next week unscathed.

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