Oklahoma State remains alive in the Big 12 title race after a wacky win over Texas Tech that had everything — big plays, turnovers, multiple onside kicks, a special teams score and a storybook finish.
Here are my 10 thoughts on OSU’s wild victory over Texas Tech.
1. The Dezmon Jackson Show
Oklahoma State was without its All-American in Chuba Hubbard and its senior RB2 LD Brown on Senior Day. No problem, said No. 27.
In his first start and coming in with a total 18 carriers for 135 yards in his career, Dezmon Jackson dragged OSU’s offense to victory to the tune of 235 yards and three touchdowns. He could have had a fourth but chose to put the game away. (More on that below.)
Assuming that Hubbard has played his final game in Stillwater, the Cowboys will need someone to step up and take some of those carries in 2021. Jackson proved he was more than equal to the task toting the rock 36 times (one shy of Chuba’s career high).
2. Sanders’ bounced back against Tech
Sanders had probably his worst game in Lubbock a year ago with a career-high five turnovers while being sacked a career-high seven times. It will probably go a bit unnoticed but he was more than solid on Saturday.
Aside from one bad interception in the third quarter, Sanders played a clean game. His numbers don’t jump off the page (222 yards and a TD on 19-of-31 passing), but he was active in the running game extending several drives while picking up a season-high 78 yards and a score on the ground. His line also did a better job protecting with Tech sacking him just once.
3. OSU was better in the red zone
The Cowboys came in ranked dead last in the Big 12, and 124th out of 127 FBS teams in touchdown percentage on red zone attempts (41.4 percent). And it looked like that trend might continue early against Tech.
The Cowboys settled for a field goal attempt, which was missed, on its first drive. But after that, the Cowboys scored touchdowns on four of five red zone attempts.
4. Tylan will be missed
Behold the final touchdown Tylan Wallace will score on BPS turf.
We’ve been fortunate enough to watch some pretty special wide receivers play their home games in Stillwater, but I don’t think there is a one of them that consistently made these type of catches and could still turn around and crack-block some dude into oblivion on a running play.
I don’t know just where he’ll end up among the hierarchy of OSU receivers, but there aren’t many I’d rather watch go up for a 50/50 ball.
5. What’s better, third-down defense or fourth-down defense?
The Cowboys defense came in ranked third in the nation in third-down defense and, against Tech, padded the stat sheet like Russell Westbrook trying to win another MVP.
Tech was just 4-of-16 on the money down. Unfortunately, Matt Wells likes to gamble as an underdog on the road and he came fairly close to leaving with the house’s money. The Red Raiders converted four of five fourth-down attempts.
6. Special Teams was a mixed bag
There were highs and lows for OSU’s special teams on Saturday. On one hand, the Cowboys returned a kickoff (an onside kick) for a touchdown for the first time in six years.
On the other you had a Braydon Johnson fumble and then a rare Tylan Wallace whiff on another onside kick, both fortunately were recovered by orange jerseys.
Tom Hutton placed four of his five punts inside the Texas Tech 20, but — a week after going perfect in his Bedlam debut — walk-on placekicker Brady Pohl missed his only FG attempt of 32 yards and an extra point.
7. All the big plays
For as much as OSU’s offense earned some ire at times, the final score and stat sheet played out like your classic OSU-Tech game.
OSU turned in a season high in points and this game came in behind only the beatdown of KU in total yards (539) and yards per play (6.1).
Tech and OSU combined for 15 passing plays of at least 15 yards and 16 rushing plays of at least 10 yards (seven of those were by Dez Jackson). And that did not include Jason Taylor’s returned onside kick score for 48 yards or Tre Sterling’s 65-yard pick-6.
At one point in the third quarter there were four touchdowns in 14 plays. It was hard to keep track of or, as I mentioned, just your normal game against Texas Tech.
8. All the turnovers
A year after losing the turnover battle 0-5 in Lubbock the Cowboys were dead even on Saturday. But it was far from pretty.
The two teams combined for six turnovers, but it could have been much worse. Two OSU fumbles and a whiffed onside kick were recovered by recovered by the good guys. Fortunately, just enough of those 50/50 balls bounced the Cowboys’ way.
9. That Finish, Though
As crazy as this game was, it had a storybook finish. With Tech scoring a late touchdown and pulling within 6, the Cowboys had to get one more first down to put things away.
The man of the hour, Dez Jackson took a handoff on third-and-2 and got 1. Gundy had a decision: attempt a 44-yard field goal with a kicker who had missed his only attempt from 32 (and a PAT) or hand it to your third-string tailback — who had already put the ball on the ground in the fourth quarter.
Gundy chose the latter and Jackson paid it off with this poetic finish.
It brought back memories of the time Chris Carson did the same thing to Tech four years ago.
10. OSU is still very much alive in the Big 12 title race
With Iowa State taking down Texas on Black Friday, the rooting path is clear for OSU fans — see if you can get there — OU needs to lose one of its next two games.
If the Cowboys win out and the Sooners, who were idle this weekend, lose to either Baylor or West Virginia, it will be Cowboys-Cyclones matchup in Arlington for all the Big 12 marbles.
The Sooners will be decent favorites in both games but I’ve seen too much weird in 2020 to tell you it’s not possible.