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10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 37-34 Cheez-It Bowl Win against Miami

The perfect way to end 2020.



[Pool photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel]


The Cowboys’ 2020 season ended how it began: Frantically.

Oklahoma State beat Miami 37-34 in the Cheez-It Bowl on Tuesday in Orlando. Here are 10 thoughts from the contest.

1. What the Heck?

In a year of nuts games, that game was probably the most nuts.

A 21-0 lead evaporates. OSU gets big plays when it was unexpected and stalled when it wasn’t expected.

We’ll get to the hot start, but Miami answering OSU’s 21-0 run with a 19-0 run of its own was crazy. Basketball is supposed to be the game of runs.

Then after everyone had their runs, it was like two heavyweight boxers unloading all their punches before the judges took control of the fight.

OSU scored to start the fourth to take a 31-19 lead.

Miami promptly answered to make it 31-26.

It seemed like a classic time where OSU would fold, but the Pokes maturely marched down the field and scored again to make it 37-26.

Then the Hurricanes took it straight back down the field and made it 37-34.

OSU was going to answer, right? Wrong. Now it’s time for a defensive struggle with five straight drives that ended in less than 2 minutes.

It was like a game from a movie script.

2. Brennan Presley is Electric

It might have been malpractice that Brennan Presley entered this bowl game with one catch on the season.

He was the player of the game in my opinion (Spencer Sanders won the actual MVP) with six catches on 11 targets for 118 yards and three touchdowns.

This change of direction is incredible:

Presley had a lot of hype surrounding him with just how good he was at Bixby, and this excitement is going to more than carry the fanbase over into next season.

3. Juiced Pokes

Say what you will about Mike Gundy, but when it comes to bowl season, his guys come out ready to go.

The Pokes started this game with a 21-0 lead. OSU has scored first in its past seven bowl games. Some were just field goals, but others were some major early leads.

Year Start Opponent
2020 21-0 Miami
2019 14-0 Texas A&M
2018 7-0 Missouri
2017 3-0 Virginia Tech
2016 31-0 Colorado
2015 3-0 Ole Miss
2014 24-0 Washington

OSU is 5-2 in its past seven bowls.

Another way to know the Cowboys were jacked up to play in this game is watching LD make the U hand sign before breaking it across his knee.

4. The Tylan Situation

Tylan Wallace played only a half of Tuesday’s game for what the came out as a bunch of different reasonings.

After the game, Mike Gundy said postgame that there wasn’t a plan for an exact point in the game to pull him, but it was something Wallace and the staff talked about. Gundy also said watching D’Eriq King go down in the first half probably played a role.

Some may say Wallace opted-out mid-game, but this sounded more like a thing Gundy and Kasey Dunn did to protect him.

Wallace is much tougher than I (shocker), but if I was a half away from millions of dollars and I just saw King go down with a knee injury, I would’ve found the nearest bubble wrap store and rolled up in it.

Tylan Wallace (like Chuba Hubbard) is not a quitter. He is one of the greatest receivers in program history, a program that is as deep at great receivers as any program in the country.

5. Just What Spencer Sanders Needed

The Spencer Sanders hype train wasn’t as full at the end of 2020 as it was at the beginning, but Sanders played one of his best college games in a ranked matchup Tuesday night.

Sanders’ final line was 27-for-40 for 305 passing yards and four touchdowns. He was also OSU’s leading rusher with 45 yards.

Will there still be a quarterback controversy between Sanders and Shane Illingworth this spring and next fall? Maybe. Illingworth has a ton of potential. But for a while there it looked as if OSU might not have a definitive guy at QB, and Sanders calmed at least a few nerves with his performance against Miami.

6. You Thought OSU Was a Running Team

In Miami’s last game, the Hurricanes gave up 554 rushing yards. So logically, OSU started the game with nine straight pass plays.

Then Spencer Sanders scrambled for a 7-yard gain before throwing four more times.

It worked. OSU’s offense was at its best those first three drives. Was Miami overcompensating for the bad run performance against North Carolina? Maybe, but good on OSU for predicting that and good on Spencer Sanders for slinging the rock around.

7. Prayers Up for D’Eriq King

As good as this game was, it would’ve been a lot better with D’Eriq King in it.

King went down with a knee injury at the end of the first half and didn’t return. It stunk because King was Miami’s offense this season. N’Kosi Perry came in and played well, but man that sucks for King.

He had just announced that he is going to return to Miami as a super senior next season, and this setback sucks for a kid who is willing to give so much to football.

8. Test Driving Tay

When Wallace exited, Kasey Dunn moved Tay Martin from his usual X position to Wallace’s Z to see what he had in the Washington State transfer for next season (so, it sounds like Martin, a senior, is coming back next season).

Martin was effective. He entered Tuesday with nine catches and 76 yards on the season. In the Cheez-It Bowl, he had six catches on seven targets for 73 yards.

Dunn has some reworking to do with his position group next year with Wallace, Dillon Stoner and Landon Wolf all leaving. Presley and Martin showed Tuesday that they are capable against a ranked Miami team.

9. Send Your Well-Wishes to Alex Hale

Turns out Alex Hale did a lot for OSU this season.

Before getting injured in Bedlam pregame, Hale was 12-for-13 on field goal attempts this season. His replacement, Brady Pohl has been just 4-for-7.

Pohl missed a field goal and an extra point Tuesday.

Hale is just a sophomore, so his stock within the program should skyrocket as fans find out just how solid he was.

10. What a Wacky Season

I can think of no better way for OSU to end what has to be the oddest season in program history by dumping a tub of Cheez-Its on Mike Gundy in Orlando.

This year gave OSU football and its observers all it could ask for and then some. From controversial T-shirts, to a nearly yearlong pandemic, to schedule shuffling, to hype, to dismissals, to injuries, to disappointments, to a game where OSU sweated out a game it started with a 21-0 lead, it was a heck of a ride.

We’ll all miss college football in a month, but man this season was as exhausting as any probably ever.

This year took a lot, but it also forced us not to take what we have for granted. In many ways Oklahoma State’s football season embodied that. Not everything went great, but OSU fans should be appreciative that there was football, that their team was able to win eight games despite all the obstacles in the Cowboys’ way this year.

Was it all perfect? Not even close. Chuba Hubbard didn’t run for 2,000 yards again. OSU played “musical chairs” on the offensive line all year. The Pokes lost a game against Texas where OSU outgained UT 530-287. But despite all that, the OSU community got to come together and watch the Cowboys play ball to provide a bit of normalcy in a year that has been so challenging.

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