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10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 41-31 Victory against Texas Tech

On winning ugly, Bryson Green and a lot of reviews.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — The Cowboys have played cleaner games, but they’ve still won every game they’ve played by double digits.

Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech 41-31 on Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium. Here are 10 thoughts from the game.

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1. Escaping the Trap

The term “trap game” is probably overused at this point, but that’s what this was for Oklahoma State.

Coming off a big, revenge win against Baylor, Oklahoma State was tasked with facing an offense that worked well against the Cowboys’ weaknesses — a quick passing game (and a backup quarterback).

Tech quarterback Behren Morton was able to find holes in OSU’s still-gelling secondary while getting the ball off quickly to avoid OSU’s daunting pass rush. He threw 62 times for 379 yards and two touchdowns. It was everything the Cowboys have struggled with thus far this season.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Cowboys finally figured enough out to slow the Red Raiders’ rapid pace and still walk out with a double-digit win. If an underperforming game for OSU is a 10-point win, you take that.

2. Third-Down Woes Get Fixed

Getting off the field on third down was a hallmark of Jim Knowles’ OSU defenses, and Derek Mason had done a good job of continuing that success … until the first half Saturday.

Texas Tech was 6-for-13 on third downs and 3-for-3 on fourth downs in the first half Saturday. Those percentages of 46% and 100% are quite a bit higher than the averages against the Cowboys coming into this game of 24% and 50%. The Cowboys just couldn’t get off the field … until they could.

OSU allowed only 7 second-half points, coming on Tech’s first drive of the half. It was a Knowles-esque adjustment for the group. Tech was 2-for-9 on third down in the second half and 1-for-4 on fourth.

After the Cowboys’ offense kept them in the game during the first half, the defense made up for it in the second half. That ability to adjust was good to see.

“We leaked at times, and then all of a sudden leaks went away and what you started to see was guys just bowing up,” Mason said. “Sometimes you just gotta bow up. In order to get to where you’re trying to go, you gotta do things that sometimes may seem impossible. When you start to do that, what you start to create is momentum, and once that momentum was created, I think the ebb and flow sort of fell our way.”

3. Another Fourth-Down Crazed Coach

For two straight weeks, the Cowboys have played coaches insistent on not punting.

Baylor coach Dave Aranda seemed more like a computer, trusting the analytics (sometimes to a fault). Joey McGuire seemed more like me when I play Madden — hellbent on staying on the field.

That could be harsh. McGuire could be a big analytics guys, too, but it seemed more like him knowing the Red Raiders needed to steal a possession or two to have a chance. And power to him, it worked a few times.

But Mike Gundy’s football mind won again. He took the points when they were there. Twice, Gundy kicked field goals that kept OSU trailing by a point, but the points added up. Kicker Tanner Brown made four field goals on the day. Those 12 points sure were useful for the Cowboys.

4. Bryson Green Continues to Show Out

Even with the return of Jaden Bray, it’s going to be hard to take Bryson Green off the field for too long.

Green caught five passes for 115 yards and a touchdown against Texas Tech, and it wasn’t just that he caught passes, it was how he did it.

On OSU’s second play from scrimmage, Green caught a pass on the Tech sideline, made a man miss and powered past two more defenders to reach the ball across the goal line. It was the second time in as many weeks he scored a touchdown on OSU’s opening drive.

Later in the first quarter, Green outjumped a Tech defender (could’ve been called offensive pass interference but the refs were letting them play on the outside) on the OSU sideline to come down with another big catch.

Then in the second quarter, he won another one-on-one battle and made a diving catch on fourth down, no less.

Kasey Dunn has an embarrassment of riches at receiver, and a different guy seems to take over every game. The Cowboys might have to start using only four offensive linemen so all of their receiving talent can get on the field.

“It’s always good when we get a win,” Green said. “I’m happy, no matter what, at the end of the day if we get a W. If we’re winning at the end of the game, if the scoreboard says OSU to whoever, I’m good.”

5. This Thought Is Under Review

Without going back and counting, I’m going to guess officials reviewed 37 plays in this game, most of which came after Oklahoma State catches (and most were confirmed still to be catches).

These four quarters took three hours and 51 minutes.

6. The Run Game Had a Short Leash

Last week, Kansas State ran for 8.8 yards a carry on Texas Tech. The Cowboys mustered 3.3 yards a rush Saturday.

In his postgame news conference, Gundy said the Cowboys didn’t run it well, but I thought they abandoned that aspect of the game a little quick. The first half saw OSU run 16 times for 51 yards, but only eight of those carries went to OSU running backs.

Dominic Richardson is a bruising carrier who seems to play better as the game goes along. He finished with 67 yards on 19 carries and had a handful of tough-to-tackle runs on the Cowboys’ final scoring drive to put the game away.

Five games into the year, and I’m not certain of what to make of the Cowboys’ run game. But I think it needs more of a chance.

7. The Kendal Daniels Call Was Tough

If Kendal Daniels was a normal-sized safety, he probably would’ve cracked one of Morton’s ribs.

But at 6-foot-4, Daniels hit Morton in the head, drawing a targeting call which led to Daniels’ ejection.

It’s a tough deal because, by the letter of the law, it was targeting. But things happened quickly, and Daniels was just trying to make a play. What could be bigger, Daniels will now miss the first half of OSU’s game in Fort Worth next weekend — a rule that seems archaic when it is clear there wasn’t intent to injure.

It could’ve been a disastrous deal for OSU. Had it not been targeting, it would’ve been a game-icing safety or at least made it fourth-and-long from inside the Tech 5-yard line. Instead, it pushed the Red Raiders to the 25 and gave them new life. Luckily for the Cowboys, they were able to stifle any momentum that came from that.

“It was targeting,” Gundy said. “Tough game, you know? But the way the rule is set up, that was targeting. You cannot lower your head, and they know it and he’s young. We talked about it, talked about it Friday. Talked about it this morning before we came over. Those are the things I remind them all the time.

“But in the heat of the moment, all he knows is he had a dead shot at the quarterback in the end zone, and you cannot lower your head. You have to keep your eyes up all the time. The rule is put in place to protect, and it’s a good rule. Nobody likes to rule because people think it’s football. Football is football until that is your kid getting hit. But it was the correct call.”

8. Have a Day, Ben Kopenski

Ben Kopenski is a walk-on at a position the Cowboys are ridiculously deep at. But he takes every chance he gets.

A redshirt senior defensive end, Kopenski played a lot Saturday, rubbing elbows with Brock Martin, Collin Oliver and Trace Ford. Kopenski had a sack and a trio of quarterback hurries. He is up to three sacks on the year after recording two against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

With all the star power OSU has at its edge-rusher spots, Kopenski is quite the feel-good story. He probably could’ve left and joined a team he could start regularly at, but he is getting his construction degree at OSU, why would he leave?

“I came here originally just for my degree,” Kopenski said. “And I tried out for the team, so that’s always been my backbone is I’ve been studying construction. I’m on my fifth year of that. When I graduate in May, I’ll be looking for a job. I’ve been focusing on my degree, so it’s easy to stick around when your academics are your core.”

9. Injuries Pile Up

Here is a list of Cowboys who at some point went down with injuries in Saturday’s game:

Preston Wilson
Korie Black
Joe Michalski (returned)
Brock Martin (returned)
Demarco Jones
Xavier Benson (returned)
Jabbar Muhammad (returned)
Braydon Johnson
Tyler Lacy (returned)

The Cowboys have stayed away from the injury bug for the most part this season, but there looks to be some sore bodies heading into next week.

Among those who didn’t return, center Preston Wilson and wide receiver Braydon Johnson stood out. Robert Allen reported that Johnson appeared to be in concussion protocol. After the game, Gundy said Wilson’s injury isn’t “significant.”

Teams deal with injuries. That’s part of it. So, this next week will be another big test to see just how good the Cowboys are.

10. A Battle of Unbeatens

After clobbering OU (which might not be as impressive as it sounds), TCU survived its trip to Lawrence (which all of a sudden is impressive). That sets up a battle of unbeaten squads next weekend in Fort Worth.

A win next weekend is a big step toward Arlington, as it would mean the Cowboys have head-to-head advantages over two Big 12 contenders in Baylor and TCU. It would also be big for the College Football Playoff resume. TCU should be a Top 15 team next weekend.

The Big 12 has been a lot of fun thus far, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping.

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