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10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 34-27 Win Over TCU in Stillwater

OSU gets bowl eligible for the 14th straight year.




Oklahoma State defeated TCU 34-27 on Saturday and has now won two straight Big 12 games for the first time in over two years (!!) as they head into the second bye week of the year 6-3 and bowl eligible for the 14th straight year.

I did not envision typing that sentence after OSU lost back-to-back games to Texas Tech and Baylor a few weeks back and Tylan Wallace to a busted ACL earlier this week. But here we are.

So how did we get here?

Well, Oklahoma State turned TCU over four times (more on this number below) and held the Frogs to just 10 points in the second half. It wasn’t always pretty on offense — it hasn’t been all year — but Spencer Sanders ended the day 9/15 for 158 yards and 2 TD and tossed in 88 yards on the ground.

The engine that powers OSU as an organization right now — Chuba Hubbard — was lights out in the second half. After putting up just 31 yards in the first half, he had 192 in the second (on just 13 carries) and finished with 20 for 223 and 2 world-class TDs on the day. Chuba, friends, might be the baby GOAT to Barry.

We’ll talk much more about all of this below, but first a big thanks to Thrive Landscape and Irrigation, which has been sponsoring the 10 Thoughts throughout this season. Visit them here for all of your landscaping needs.

Onto the thoughts …

1. Feast and Famine

Oklahoma State’s offense is not for the weak-hearted. They either put up a play worthy of SportsCenter top 10 nomination …. or punt in three quick plays. Look at the variation in drives here.

  • 67 yards
  • 60 yards
  • 8 yards
  • 8 yards
  • 80 yards
  • 20 yards
  • -4 yards
  • 9 yards
  • 92 yards
  • -2 yards
  • 49 yards
  • 2 yards
  • 68 yards
  • 5 yards
  • 23 yards
  • -6 yards

They are the Aaron Judge of college offenses. Either Chuba hits a 510-foot home run, or they’re walking back to the dugout and throwing helmets down hallways. There’s nothing between these two outcomes!

To take this a step further, OSU put up the following numbers.

  • 372 yards on 11 plays
  • 87 yards on the other 45 plays

I … have no idea if this is sustainable, but I don’t know that it’s what you want week to week. This sounds like I’m complaining about watching Chuba light fire to the fastest kids in Texas, but I’m not. I just don’t really know how to categorize what I’m watching.

2. Chuba Chuba

When did you know he was going 92 to the house?

Was it here?

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Maybe here?

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Definitely here, right?

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He’s as breathtaking a player as I’ve seen in the Gundy era. If you’re forcing me to rank the most electrifying guys under Gundy, I think the list probably goes something like this.

1. Dez
2. Chuba
3. Tyreek
4. Blackmon
5. Washington
6. Justice
7. Gilbert
8. Randle
9. Perrish

I have no idea why I’m trying to do this 30 minutes after a game, but that’s the off-the-top-of-my-head rankings. I surely left somebody out and certainly didn’t rank them properly, but without looking anything up, that’s what I got.

Anyway, here are the two 510-foot home runs. One step and VinceCarterOVER.gif.

The best evidence of Chuba’s greatness? How about this stat about Gary Patterson against running backs. Here are all the 200-yard individual rushing games against TCU this century.

1. Chuba Hubbard — 223 yards (2019)
2. There isn’t one.

The full list is even better.

3. Stoner Shows Up

The 93-yard performance was his fourth-best ever and by far his best this season. Those two TDs were as many as he had in every game of the 2018 season and the rest of this 2019 season combined. There was a little Tylan Wallace-Ewing Theory going on early (shout out to my old school Simmons readers), and I was prepared to spike the football on this post about how not having No. 2 was good for No. 3.

I don’t think that’s really how it went, but Stoner — [ignores early drop] — stepped up when OSU needed somebody to step up. OSU’s other receivers combined for six catches on 65 yards, and 47 of those came on a bomb to MY GUY BRAYDON JOHNSON.

Anyway, this pitch and catch to Stoner early — while probably not an actual TD — was as pretty a toss and reception as Sanders has had to anybody all season.

4. Defensive Stamina

OSU ran just 56 plays on Saturday. They ran 55 last week. Those are two of just five instances this decade in which they’ve run fewer than 60 plays in a game (four wins, one loss). They faced 88 plays on defense last week. They faced 82 this week. Not crazy numbers, but 170 in two weeks when your offense is barely running plays is a lot.

Each week I expected them to fold late. I don’t know why I expected this given Rob Glass’ reputation as the greatest trainer of the human body in the history of the world, but I did. They didn’t in either week. This time around they limited TCU’s offense to just 4.6 yards per play and nabbed three of their four turnovers in the last two quarters.

This seems like a small, nuanced, super-nerdy thing that doesn’t matter. But it does matter. OSU’s defense is withstanding long games against teams that have good to really good offenses (TCU being the former, not the latter) late in the Big 12 season. I don’t know if it’s meaningful in the long term, but it’s definitely not nothing.

TCU scored 27 points on 15 drives, which means that for the second straight week, OSU’s defense held its opponent to 1.8 points per drive with at least three turnovers. That’s how you win Big 12 games when your offense looks like Joseph interpreting Pharoah’s dream about the fat and skinny cows from the book of Genesis.

5. KHP

Somebody in the Chamber posited that Kolby Harvell-Peel just hit his 15th career game (shouts to Gundy’s half-baked theories!) because he’s been lights out the last two weeks. This was actually No. 20 of his career, but it might have been the best one.

KHP had six tackles, two picks and two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery, which means he’s now had eight in the last two weeks and 11 on the season.

The record in a single year is 17 by Darrent Williams back in 2003.

KHP is one of several guys defensively — Amen, Malcolm Rodriguez, Trace Ford and Jarrick Barnard are others — that make you look around and say, Wait a second, all of these guys are coming back next year and they only lose AJ and Mike Scott but they get Bundage back is this a good defense that could be a great defense? Probably not because Big 12, right? But it’s at least on the table.

6. As Simple as Turnovers

OSU is now 22-1 in the Gundy era when turning a team over 4+ times like they did on Saturday. They’ve now created as many turnovers in the last two weeks as they did in the first seven games of the season combined.

Granted, they only scored seven points on those turnovers on Saturday, but when TCU goes like this to start the second half, you’re going to win 90 percent of those games. [throws arbitrary number into the ether, that’s C3 on your Gundy BINGO card]

  • Fumble
  • Punt
  • INT
  • Punt
  • Punt
  • INT

That’s how TCU opened the second half. A lot will (and should) be made about Chuba and about the stops OSU got, but at least a little credit should go to a team far more intent on (and successful at) turning ISU and TCU over than any of the teams they played before those two.

7. Third-Down Defense

I’ve been yelping about this for a few weeks, but OSU has been so good on third downs this year after so many years of being so bad on third downs. Here are their opponents’ third-down percentages by conference game.

  • Texas: 57 percent
  • Kansas State: 8 percent
  • Texas Tech: 15 percent
  • Baylor: 33 percent
  • Iowa State: 31 percent
  • TCU: 41 percent

In other words, as much as they got off the field on Saturday, it was still their second-worst third-down game in the Big 12 this season. This is a good thing. They led the league in this category coming in and will likely still lead it going into the final three games. For as much hollering as we do about Jim Knowles, this is one area where his defense has thrived.

8. Sanders Protecting the Ball

Listen, did he look like early 2000s Michael Vick out there? No, but the thing we all begged for him to do after the Tech and Baylor games was protect the ball. He threw one atrocious pick last week, and another less-atrocious one this week. But other than that, he’s been clean. He hasn’t fumbled. He’s successfully handed it off to the best non-professional running back on the planet. He did enough.

Do I still feel like I’m standing in quicksand when discussing his trajectory? Yes, I do. But he’s at least moved in the right direction (literally and figuratively) with the ball. He’s not running with it like he’s playing flag football outside the Colvin, and he’s not trying to score on every play.

I don’t know what Sanders eventually becomes, but I do know he wants to be great so bad that it’s palpable. And man are there a few times a game when he’s great. This was some utter sorcery right here.

The other thing I love — and I try to not go too far down this path because I think it can get a little silly — is how infectious he seems around this team and in the context of this game. OSU might not accomplish what we thought it could accomplish this season, but every game is for the conference championship to him.

If I have to pick, I prefer that over the alternative.

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9. OSU Might be Army (West Campus)

Oklahoma State — cutting-edge, innovative, “we’ll throw it as much as you let us throw it” Oklahoma State — attempted eight passes in the first half and seven in the second. Dillon Stoner became Dillon Wallace, and swiped six of the 14 total targets for 93 yards and 2 TDs. But OSU, which came into the game rushing it 62 percent of the time, bumped that to 73 percent without Wallace.

When Gundy dreams about football, this is likely what he dreams about. Get it to 93 percent. Why’s it so low? 

The most rushes Zac Robinson attempted in a season was 146 his junior year. Sanders has 126 through just nine games and is on pace to absolutely obliterate Zac’s number. His rush total will likely end up being the biggest number by an OSU QB since the forward pass became appropriate after the second world war.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this of course, but I think it does two things. It exposes your two most talented guys to a lot of hits, and it takes away one of your inherent advantages, which is having a mega-deep group of receivers. I thought OSU’s first drive on Saturday was as diverse a set of plays as I’ve seen since maybe the Oregon State game or the first drive of the Texas game (maybe this is a first drive thing?).

Then after that it just felt like they became so one-dimensional. Again, it worked, but to quote a famous SEC coach, Is this what we want football to be?

10. Now what?

We were looking up contracts and buyouts two weeks ago, and now OSU is staring at games against two one-win teams to get to Bedlam with an 8-3 record (of course they’re the lone win for the other of those one-win teams).

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How did this happen? I do not know. But it’s yet another reminder of just how meaningful each of these things is when there are only 12 or 13 of them every year.

OSU isn’t playing the rest of the year to get into the Big 12 title game or for a trip to any massive bowl game. Those dreams died in Lubbock when they lost to a team that might have won its only Big 12 game.

Right now they’re playing to get to eight wins with a shot at making Bedlam bedlam once again. A team whose trajectory pointed, if not straight down then at a pretty steep angle in the wrong direction, suddenly has a little momentum for the rest of this season and could potentially post another (!) nine-win campaign (reminder: Iowa State has two nine-win seasons ever … EVER).

And [scratches head, adjusts collar, looks around with pained expression] don’t look now, but with Tylan potentially staying, a year of Sanders as QB1 and nearly an entire defense (that’s suddenly good!) returning, OSU is maybe just a few pieces of sabotaged botched citizenship paperwork from returning Chuba for a final year into what could be a really interesting 2020.

(I mean, probably not but you never know!)

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