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Cox’s Notebook: Oklahoma State Defeats Arizona State Comfortably, but with Some Blemishes

Kyle Cox unloads his notebook after OSU’s win over Arizona State.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The Cowboys moved to 2-0 with their 34-17 win over the Sun Devils on Saturday.

The visiting Pac-12 team looked ready to add more mayhem to what had already become a wild Saturday full of upsets, pulling within three points of the Cowboys early in the fourth quarter. But the Pokes settled in, locked down and scored the final 14 points of the game to come away unscathed.

As the game unfolded, I was constantly typing. If you will allow me, here’s a look at my stream of consciousness during an often nerve-racking game.

• Jaden Nixon has a big return on the opening kickoff, giving the Cowboys nice starting field position. Hope he gets more carries.

• Cowboys making a concerted effort to kickstart the run game after a pass-heavy Week 1. So far, it’s not going well.

• Pokes’ first drive stalls.

• Welp. Arizona State picks up 42 yards on a Xazavian Valladay rush on the Sun Devil’s first offensive snap of the game.

• Another big play. Emory Jones hits a receiver for 18 yards.

• More chunk yards. Arizona State has the Cowboys’ defense on its heels and backed up in its own red zone.

• Jones had Messiah Swinson in the end zone, but he only got a fingertip on it. Sun Devils chip in a short field goal and draw first blood. The Cowboys’ defense continues to show growing pains. 3-0 ASU.

• And the Cowboys go three-and-out. OSU has 19 total yards in its first two possessions. Arizona State went 78 yards and scored three in its first drive. OSU’s D still showing growing pains.

• The ESPN crew just mentioned that Valladay is the FBS’ current career leading rusher. Last week, OSU faced Lew Nichols III who led the FBS in rushing last year. Apropos of nothing. (Or not?)

• Ugh. Elijhah Badger sliced up OSU’s back end. Picks up 28 yards on a catch and carry, and ASU is back in OSU territory. The Cowboys need to get less green on the back end. Baylor is only two weeks away.

• OSU gets a stop after three-straight Jones incompletions.

• Sanders threw a dangerous ball across the middle that John Paul Richardson hauls. The crowd inside BPS let out a collective gasp.

• An Arizona State DT picks up roughing the passer after sending Sanders flying well after he let loose of the ball. Things getting chippy between opposing big guys.

• And they apparently just got chippier. Jason Brooks picks up an unsportsmanlike penalty. OSU’s third drive stalls out. This does not look like the same offense that scored six-straight touchdowns against Central Michigan. OSU lucky to be down just 3-0.

• OSU forces its first three-and-out. Collin Oliver got in the grill of Emory Jones. Pass was caught but short of line to gain.

• A nice 18-yard run by Sanders gets nullified by a Jason Brook holding call. That’s gonna be a 33-yard oopsy. His second huge penalty in the last two drives, and he’s headed to the sideline.

• Sanders finds Braydon Johnson for a cool 18 yards to get OSU out of the hole and into ASU territory for the first time. More of that, less running your head into the wall, please.

• And just as OSU was getting into a groove offensively, ASU slips into zone coverage and slips a pass. That’s interception No. 1 for Sanders this season.

• Collin Oliver is a grown man, and he makes other grown men look like boys.

• OSU’s defense gets another stop. ASU was about to go for it on fourth-and-1, then took a timeout just to decide to punt it. Let’s see how Sanders and the offense can bounce back after that pick.

• Sanders almost has his second pick in as many possessions when Bryson Green hits the turf. Pokes go three-and-out again.

• That pick will get the pub, but OSU’s inability to run the ball and gain anything on first down has really limited their chances.

• Tyler Lacy argued that he ripped the ball loose in the scrum on that last play. On this one, he falls on the stripped fumble to give OSU the ball back. And it’s going to review.

• Confirmed. Let’s see if Sanders & Co. can do something with it.

• And after my previous tweet, OSU rushes the ball all five snaps, picks up 37 yards and a score in 1:13. Pokes lead 7-3. Nice response after the forced turnover.

• Momentum switch, when the Cowboys began running the ball???

• Cowboys force a third-and-long and Jason Taylor II closes quickly on a caught pass to bottle up Elijhah Badger for the stop.

• Backed up at his own 4-yard line, Sanders directs the Cowboys out to midfield.

• PI on ASU’s DJ Taylor adds insult to injury. He’s still on the turf after a rough landing. The penalty moves the chains for OSU.

• Dominic Richardson is cooking.

• Sanders is toying with OSU fans’ emotions. Throws another near-pick.

• Pokes rolling on the ground. Sanders caps a 96-yard, penalty-fueled drive with a 6-yard touchdown — 14-3, OSU.

• Cowboy defense is flexing. Back-to-back stops, including a Tyler Lacy TFL, and ASU stalls.

• A drop by Braydon Johnson and a short run bring up a quick third-and-9. Dominic Richardson just limped off the field. Not great. Ollie Gordon time.

• OSU gets bailed out with a hold. Another costly penalty by the Sun Devils. I think they might get a not-so-peppy pep talk from Herm Edwards at halftime.

• Another dangerous throw by No. 3 into triple coverage. There is a not-so-alternate universe in which he’s thrown four interceptions in the first half. Not all were his fault, but dang.

• Tanner Brown nails one from 43 yards to give OSU a 17-3 lead with 26 seconds left in the half.

• Jones takes a knee and a 14-point deficit to the locker room. Arizona State kinda fell apart after seemingly controlling the first quarter.

• And a blown coverage in the secondary allows a 73-yard catch-and-run and puts ASU on the OSU 2-yard line. A defensive holding then gave ASU first-and-goal from the 1. Hard to keep them out of the end zone there. Sun Devils back to within 17-10. OSU has an issue with the backend of its defense.

• A penalty on the kickoff lands OSU back at its own 8-yard line to start the drive. Cowboys stall again, and the Sun Devils will have a chance to tie it.

• Both Brendon Evers and Jabbar Muhammad have been helped off the field on this drive. Not ideal.

• Thomas Harper gets a PI which gives the Sun Devils a nice shot in the arm. Now at the OSU 34-yard line.

• Mason Cobb made a nice read and stops the ASU rusher for a loss.

• It is now raining on Lewis Field. We’ll see how the new turf holds and if the weather has an impact on either team’s passing game.

• Trace Ford gets to Jones and affects the pass.

• And ASU misses the field goal. Cowboy defense comes up big.

• And OSU’s passing game looks OK. Braydon Johnson picks up 43 yards.

• Taylor Miterko got a false start trying to accentuate an offsides call, but the defender never crossed the neutral zone. That’s a costly mental error there which turned a third-and-goal at the 2, to the 7. The Cowboys have to settle for 3. 20-10, home team.

• Tyler Lacy is a grown man.

• Ugh, another three-and-out for OSU. Aside from those two drives in the second quarter, OSU has not been able to get things going on the ground so far in 2022.

• And the Sun Devils start their fourth quarter just like their third, with a huge chunk yardage play to put them in scoring position. This one they pay off with a 21-yard TD. 20-17, OSU a half minute into the final frame.

• The Cowboys answered with a nice gain by Richardson, and then Sanders-to-Green pays it off with a 31-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker. OSU back up 10, 27-17.

• Who was I to question this defense?

• Now that’s how you beat the blitz.

• The Cowboys strike again. Ollie Gordon might be the most impressive running back to ever average four yards per game.

All in all, despite the warts — some of which are concerning — you have to applaud the ability for OSU to win ugly. Cowboys move on to Arkansas-Pine Bluff and then the Baylor awaits.

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