NORMAN — Oklahoma State got into an 813-yard shootout with No. 6 Oklahoma in the first half in Norman on Saturday, and it only got crazier from there.
After allowing 34 points and 453 yards to one of the best offenses in Big 12 history, OSU put the clamps down (inasmuch as anyone does against OU) in the second half and scored a wild fourth down TD to make it 48-47 with 63 seconds left. Mike Gundy noted that they’d decided to go for two long before that last drive, but an attempt to go ahead 49-48 came up short (literally) as Taylor Cornelius couldn’t find Tylan Wallace from two yards out.
Cornelius was fabulous for the Pokes as he threw for 501 yards (a new Bedlam record for OSU) and put up just the third 500-yard day in school history (hello, Brandon Weeden and Mason Rudolph). His two primary targets were Tyron Johnson (11 catches for 128 yards) and Tylan Wallace (10 for 220). If Wallace had the same number of catches as Johnson, though, I’d be writing this post a little differently.
It was a chaotic evening that ended as most Bedlams unfortunately have for the Pokes under Gundy. I’m not even sure where to begin with the 10 Thoughts (that could be 100 Thoughts), but we’ll dive in head first and see where it goes. But first let’s hear from our sponsor Thrive Landscape and Irrigation in Stillwater.
1. A Classic
We can (and should) bemoan Gundy’s 2-12 record against the Sooners and how it’s actually worse than OSU’s overall record against OU, despite existing in this golden era for Oklahoma State football. But how many plays is OSU from that number looking a lot more upright? One play in 2012 and 2013 and 2017 and now 2018. Four plays go differently and maybe Gundy is 6-8, right?
In some ways, measuring games by winning and losing is overrated. I know I’ll get destroyed for taking that stance, but OSU just took a 21-point dog into one of the toughest tests in the country and reduced the football game to one play. So which team played better based on the two teams they have?
Gundy has flat out lost Bedlams of the past when he should have won them. This wasn’t one of them, though, and though he won’t get any praise for taking his 12th L in 14 tries, I thought the way OSU played all night was outstanding.
2. None of the Stops (and Then All of Them)
Going back to the last six drives of the 2016 game in Norman, OU had done the following in its 30 drives against Oklahoma State up until halftime of the 2018 game.
- TDs: 16
- FGs: 4
- End of half/game: 4
- Punts 3
- Turnovers: 3
Three punts! OU punted nearly as many times in the second half on Saturday as it had in the eight quarters before that against the Pokes. But then in the second half OSU held OU to just two TDs on six drives. It was maybe the most astonishing part of the entire night in Norman. It honestly felt like OU could coast to 70 points for most of the first two quarters … and then they didn’t.
They still scored 3.42 points per drive, which is terrifying because that’s far below what they’ve been averaging for the season, but it seemed like OSU’s defense did enough to win in the second half even after it dug its own hole in the first.
I always go back to what Steve Kerr said several years ago on Bill Simmons’ podcast about getting stops. To paraphrase, he said something along the lines of you can be a great team and win a lot if you have a great offense and do all these different things, but to win games that matter you have to get stops and you have to know that you can get stops.
OSU looks less confident and less capable than it maybe ever has when it comes to this over the first 30 minutes. Part of this is the opponent of course. Kyler is a freak show, and I’m not sure Justin Gilbert could have locked down Hollywood. HOWEVAH, after making adjustments in 2H, OSU looked like the defense I thought it would look like coming into 2018.
3. Creating Turnovers
OSU has forced one (one!) turnover in its last four games. If you’re not getting stops (and you definitely weren’t for a while!) then you have to be creating turnovers. They haven’t done that, and now they have 10 through the first 10 games, which would be the worst per game average of the last 10 seasons.
Related: I don’t really think it’s a coincidence that the two worst teams in that span were also the two worst at getting takeaways on defense. When you score like OSU scores, you can win a lot of games when your defense gives you extra possessions. It’s been one of the more under-the-radar reasons OSU is 5-5 through its first 10.
4. Tylan Was the Second-Best Player on the Field
Last year the Bedlam player rankings went 1. Justice 2. Baker, and I think this year it went 1. Kyler (more on him briefly) and 2. Tylan (with 3. Corn and maybe 4. Tyron making appearances!).
It shouldn’t be surprising that the top talent plays best against other top talent, but for Tylan to put up 442 yards on 20 catches combined against Texas and OU in a three-week span in the two best games of his career (and life) is insanely impressive. When the chips were down last year, OSU went to Tyron in this game. This year, they went to No. 2. Gundy said he was a little disappointed in the drops Tylan had, which is fair, but the 200+ yard list against OU for receivers goes like this.
- Rashaun Woods: 226 yards (2002)
- Tylan Wallace: 220 yards (2018)
Also, Tyron was swagging out of his mind.
I WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME 13 TIMES A YEAR!
5. Kyler Was the Best Player on the Field
I promise you as fast as he seemed on TV, he was even faster in person. When he skittered through the pocket, it legit looked as if somebody had hit pause on every other player on the field. Despite a lull between halftime and the end of the third, he finished with 349 passing yards and 66 rushing yards (OU ran it for 7.5 yards a pop overall which is 😱). Cody Thomas, it became clear, was not walking through that door.
Also, I have a take I’ve been workshopping all day. I’m not positive I believe it because I really haven’t watched OU as much as I usually do, but I think …
*looks both ways and around three different corners
*lowers voice to a whisper
… I think Kyler might be better than Baker.
6. Corn Respect
Don’t let the outcome fool you, Corn rolled with a potential Heisman winner the whole way. I thought the clock struck midnight when he short-hopped Landon Wolf in Q2. His reaction to me said, I just looked at the score and my numbers and where OU is ranked, even though I’m pretty sure Corn has never looked at any of those things.
He didn’t fade, though, and he found his two best guys over and over and over again. That “game-tying” TD to Tylan on fourth down was the biggest of big boy throws, and it seems like Corn’s vision for the game and ability to slow everything down has really improved over the last three outings. Also, I think he hit on more deep balls in this game (2) than he has in the other nine games combined.
An all-time performance for somebody who now has two of them in the last three weeks and has shoved it in my face with the way he’s performed on Saturdays. All the respect for that.
7. Offensive Line
They’ve gotten dogged all season, but OSU ran 86 plays on Saturday, and OU had the following numbers defensively.
- 2 sacks
- 5 TFLs
- 1 QB hurry
Offensive lines are like sound systems, you only notice them when they’re broken, but OSU’s was fabulous on Saturday. One fun nugget in the second half was on a short third down play that Corn picked up on a keeper, Johnny Wilson just lost his mind. He was fist-pumping and throwing punches and generally acting like an insane person. And I kinda loved it.
We haven’t seen the kind of intensity from OSU this season that you need to have to maintain this kind of play at a high level to win 10 games, but you did see it on Saturday. I asked Gundy about that after the game.
“If I knew, I’d fix it,” said Gundy. “I’ve said that all year. Everybody wants answers. I don’t know. Why they’re doing that, I don’t have an answer for you. I wish I did.”
8. Special Teams … Again
OSU lost this game for a lot of reasons so it’s unfair to reduce it to just one. But when you miss an extra point to go up one with 12 minutes left in this rivalry with the history OSU has had, there is a nonzero probability that’s going to come back and haunt you. It was always going to happen. None of us really knew how — and it’s incredibly unfortunate for Matt Ammendola, who has now missed five of his last seven field goals and an extra point that could have won OSU a Bedlam game nobody thought it had a chance to win — but you knew it would come into play somehow. And of course it did.
9. The Final Play
Speaking of the ending … I loved OSU going for two there. Loved it. Strangely, like I noted earlier, OSU had been getting stops in the second half, but I have zero percent confidence in them stuffing Kyler from 25 yards out once, much less multiple times. It was the right call even if it didn’t go as planned.
How about this? In September after one of the interceptions, Gundy joked that Corn should never throw when rolling to his right ever again. In November, with two straight Big 12 games on the line on do-or-die plays from roughly three yards out, OSU has rolled Corn right for him to throw the ball!
We can debate forever playcalls on 2-point conversions — Mike Yurcich laughed when he was asked if that was the call at the top of his list — but the bottom line there is that Gundy coached a Bedlam as if he wears a gold chain and used more hair product than Mrs. Pistols has used in all of 2018 (now if he can figure out how to do that with some of his better teams, OSU will be in business).
10. Riley and Gundy
Lincoln Riley has been the OU head coach for 521 days. Mike Gundy has been the OSU head coach for 5,059 days. They both have two wins.
That’s a devastating reality for the best football coach in Oklahoma State history. Gundy called the game “a heck of a college football game,” and it was.
With 3:29 left in the fourth, OU’s massive video board behind them and a win they would never forget 71 yards in their future, OSU stuffed it down the throats of the third-biggest crowd in OU history. It was an iconic drive that could have led to a play that would live forever in Bedlam history. But it didn’t.
OSU failed to convert from two yards away. Before that Chuba fumbled with a chance to again go up late. Before that Ammendola missed the extra point. Before that OSU got the ball on its own 40 late in the third in a great spot to go up but ceded a punt after gaining 24 yards. Before that … before that … before that.
In an unforgiving evening, OSU missed so many opportunities to save what will be remembered as a lost season. For Gundy (and for us all), another Bedlam. Another Bedlam what-if.