Connect with us


10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 39-32 Victory against Kansas

On Ollie, scoring 30 points and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — An old-school Big 12 shootout just about broke out in Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday.

Oklahoma State beat Kansas 39-32 to push the Pokes to 4-2 in what has been a crazy first half of the season. Here are 10 thoughts on the game.

1. Gordon Goes Off

As a true sophomore, Ollie Gordon did something Saturday that hasn’t been done in an Oklahoma State uniform since 1989: have 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same game.

Gordon ran for 168 yards and had 116 receiving yards in Saturday’s game, becoming the first Cowboy to complete the feat since Gerald Hudson did so back then (coincidentally also against Kansas). He is also the first OSU running back to just have 100 receiving yards since Rafael Denson in 1992. 

Think about all of the outstanding running backs OSU has had since 1989 or 1992. Tatum Bell, Vernand Morency, Dantrell Savage, Kendall Hunter, Joseph Randle, Jeremy Smith, Justice Hill, Chuba Hubbard, Jaylen Warren – none of them have dominated a game in the way Gordon dominated Saturday.

The Cowboys had eight pass plays go for 15+ yards Saturday — Gordon had half of those. And OSU had five rushes for 10+ yards — Gordon had four of those. 

It, again, makes the fact that he had three carries and two catches in the South Alabama loss all the more maddening, but it’s certainly better late than never.

Another cool part of Gordon’s ascendance is that he is who we thought he was. Gordon was a high-level recruit (the No. 238 player in his class). He came in already a fan favorite given he is a jumbo running back who chose to stick to his OSU commitment despite a late Texas push. And now he is here and doing all of this in just his second year in Stillwater.

2. 30 Points

It took 358 long days, but Oklahoma State has scored 30 points again.

The last time the Cowboys eclipsed the number came Oct. 22, 2022 — OSU’s win against Texas at home. Between then and Saturday, OSU averaged just 18.4 points a game in 11 games.

The Cowboys started hot Saturday, scoring 17 points in the first quarter. Hitting 30 felt touch-and-go at times from there, but an Alex Hale field goal early in the fourth quarter put 30 on the board before Brennan Presley added to it with a six-yard touchdown run and Hale hit another field goal.

What I learned in this stretch of OSU football history is that watching games with a lot of scoring is a lot more fun. I’m not sure why it was a knock on the Big 12 in the last decade that points were being scored everywhere. That game was certainly much more fun than watching a team average 18.4 points week after week.

3. Probably Still Too Many Field Goals

OSU has relied on the right leg of Alex Hale for much of the past two weeks, and it was only a matter of time before he missed.

With his team down 32-30 in the fourth quarter, Hale was wide right from 43 yards away, and it looked as if the Cowboys’ being overly reliant on special teams finally bit them. But the Pokes rallied and scored a touchdown and hit another field goal late.

Hale was 4-for-5 on the day, hitting from 28, 26, 21 and 42. He entered the day tied for first nationally in field goals per game at 2.20 — a stat he’ll likely lead the country in come Sunday morning.

But it would behoove OSU to find a way to not use Hale that much. Another way to look at all of Hale’s makes is that OSU kicked field goals with the Pokes on KU’s 11-yard line, nine-yard line, four-yard line and 25-yard line. Those first three in particular would’ve made a big difference had the Cowboys found a way to convert two of those opportunities into touchdowns. We’re talking OSU maybe tickling 50 points.

4. Bowman Has Best Game as Cowboy

It would make sense that in his first time guiding OSU’s offense to 30+ points that Alan Bowman would play his best game.

Bowman finished with 336 passing yards — his most in a game since throwing for 384 against OSU in 2020. He completed 68% of his passes and threw two touchdowns. He was able to spread the wealth, too, with five Cowboys catching multiple passes.

There was room for improvement surely (OSU attempted five field goals), but I can’t think of many instances where a drive stalled because of something Bowman did.

5. Rashod Owens Slides Under the Radar Again

With Rashod Owens stepping in at the Z receiver spot for an injured De’Zhaun Stribling last week, everyone wrote a story about him after his solid outing in the win against Kansas State.

He bested that performance Saturday, but because of how historic Gordon’s game was, Owens’ nine catches for 112 yards slid under the radar.

Owens isn’t overly flashy — he played Cowboy back last season for goodness sake — but his consistency ought to be a welcome sight for OSU fans. He had a 40-yard catch-and-run Saturday, but for the most part, he just did a good job of keeping OSU ahead of the chains. 

Four of Owens’ catches came on first down, and only one of his first-down targets fell incomplete. Consistent yardage on first down will go a long way in OSU kicking the offensive struggles that have plagued them lately.

6. Defense Had Its Flaws

OSU’s defense gave up touchdowns of 47 yards, 30 yards, 44 yards, 49 yards and 42 yards. For reference, OSU’s longest score was 20 yards.

So, that’s not great. Defenses are going to allow a big play every once in a while, but five chunk touchdowns probably aren’t part of a winning formula moving forward.

The Cowboys were also lackluster in defending third downs. Kansas was 7-for-13 on the money down and averaged 11.7 yards per play on the down. KU’s 49-yard score (a pass from Bean to Skinner) was on third down, but early drive extenders also led to touchdowns. 

OSU gave up nine yards on a 3rd-and-1 in the first quarter, and KU scored two plays later. On KU’s next drive, the Jayhawks gained 10 yards on a 3rd-and-9 and 18 yards on a 3rd-and-13 before scoring later in the drive.

It’s something the Cowboys tightened up late, denying the Jayhawks on their final three attempts, but this thing is probably a lot more comfortable if the Cowboys find a way to get off the field early.

7. But the Defense Did Tighten Up

It looked as if it wasn’t going to be a fun defensive film review with all the big plays and third down concessions, but here is how the Pokes’ D ended the game:

End of game

The Cowboys adjusted and ultimately held a team that entered this game averaging 36 points a game below its average.

And OSU is forcing turnovers again. The Cowboys had one interception and one fumble recovery in their first four games. In the past two, they’ve had five interceptions.

8. And the Pokes Stuffed the Jayhawks’ Vaunted Run Game

Jason Bean looked like a Heisman candidate for much of Saturday’s game, but that came at the expense of the Jayhawks’ high-powered rushing attack not ever really getting going.

Kansas ran for 399 yards in its 51-22 win against UCF last week and entered Saturday averaging 232.2 yards a game on the ground on the season. The Jayhawks ran for just 90 yards Saturday, and the dynamic duo of Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw toted the rock a combined 21 times for 90 yards.

Sure, Bean threw for 410 yards and five touchdowns, but the Cowboys eventually got him corralled, picked him off twice and got the win.

9. Collin Oliver Makes Plays

A former defensive end, Collin Oliver still seems at his best when rushing quarterbacks. He finished Saturday with seven tackles, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a pair of pass breakups.

His first sack was reminiscent of his Bedlam-icing sack in 2021 where he crawled to Caleb Williams’ ankles. KU had the ball inside its 20 when Oliver crawled past his blocker and swiped at Bean’s feet for an 11-yard loss.

He got to Bean again in the third in tandem with Xavier Benson for a seven-yard loss on first down. 

In the fourth he got a strip-sack on Bean, a play that came on fourth down, no less.

That’s already an outstanding game, but he all but iced the game on a 4th-and-1 with less than two minutes to play when he got his hands up and deflected a would-be first down to give his team the ball back.

Oliver’s transition from defensive end to linebacker is getting smoother and smoother, seemingly, but the most important thing he brings this team is that no matter where he is playing, he makes big plays.

10 What’s Possible Now?

Setting expectations for OSU in 2023 is like trying to make a basketball shot at a carnival with an oblong rim — it’s dang tough.

Riding the rollercoaster is what is fun about sports, but OSU might’ve should’ve had people sign a waiver before hopping on this thing. So, this team struggled with an FCS team, lost to a Sun Belt team, lost to a team that lost a good chunk of players to a gambling investigation, then beat two respected Sunflower State schools? And it’s only mid-October? And there were three quarterbacks splitting series somewhere in there?

At the end of September, bowl eligibility for an 18th straight season seemed far-fetched, but after the back-to-back wins, it would be quite the gut punch if the Pokes don’t get to six wins now. In fact, OSU might be favored in five of its final six games (everything but Bedlam). 

All of the conference newcomers seem beatable (because they are having a hard time beating conference mainstays), and West Virginia — OSU’s next opponent — is the only conference mainstay to get beaten by one of the newcomers thus far. 

So, is a 9-3 finish still on the table? I’d lean against that right now based on how wacky the year has been, but at the same time, the wackiness might know no bounds. But even if this team can get to eight wins, that’s a long way ahead of where everyone (including myself) thought this group could be just a few short weeks ago.

Most Read