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Five Things We Learned from OSU’s 29-21 Win over Kansas State

They say you learn more from defeat then victory. We still learned a lot.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

They say you learn more in losses than wins, but I’m happy enough to examine a victory this time. I think we can find something to glean.

Oklahoma State moved to 3-2 and 1-1 in conference play with its 29-21 win over Kansas State on a Friday night. It ended a two-game skid and kept the Pokes from dipping below .500 for the first time since Daxx Garman was taking snaps. The Cowboys needed that one.

Here are five things we can take away from the K-State win.

1. Shoulda Gone with Bowman and Gordon from Week 1

I have been saying this all along, but now we have enough evidence that OSU should have set its lineup before Week 1, instead of the scripted QB/RB carousel it rode through the nonconference, especially since this was the most logical decision from the start.

Alan Bowman had the most experience and made the most sense. Ollie Gordon was the heir apparent. I know we’ve heard that the portal was a motivating factor, but scared money don’t make none. Go with the best option. Make a decision and live with it. Marshall said it in his 10 Thoughts on the win, but we’ve all been thinking it. Imagine what OSU’s record looks like if Bowman and Gordon (especially Bowman) were getting first-team reps all along.

2. Gundy Can Coach an Underdog

I mean, we already knew this. But the way the Gundy teams play/are coached with their backs against the wall is simultaneously exciting and head-scratching. On Friday it was exciting.

I’m sure some of it is natural and Gundy didn’t go nuts all night. The Cowboys tried to grind out clock after going up 26-7. But there were trick plays, and the Cowboys went for it on fourth down after the Wildcats botched their own fourth-down try. They were aggressive enough and it made the difference.

It’s been easy to complain about the apparent mindset changes in the past (especially in Bedlam games), but credit where it’s due. Gundy and Co. outcoached Chris Klieman and Co. last night.

3. OSU’s Offense Isn’t Totally Fixed

The Pokes had one offensive touchdown and settled for a field-goal attempt five times inside the red zone. The running game looked vastly improved — thanks to some improved blocking and finally handing it to Ollie Gordon — but the Cowboys still have a long way to go to get back to where they want to be.

But the run game wasn’t a fluke.

K-State came in ranked No. 7 nationally in rushing defense (top in Big 12) allowing just 73.3 yards per game at 2.53 per carry. Gordon nearly doubled that output himself, and the Pokes averaged 4.4 YPC as a team.

If they can sustain that type of output, or near it, moving forward, it will take a lot of pressure off Bowman and the passing attack.

4. The Cowboys are Getting Thinner

Some bad news came out of the win. De’Zhaun Stribling, OSU’s No. 2 receiver coming in, and former Tulsa linebacker Justin Wright were each announced to be done for the year with injuries on Friday. Stribling has been the Cowboys’ most effective weapon on the outside, and Wright is an experienced defender who was expected to play a key role this year.

There are guys ready to step up, like Rashod Owens who had a career-high 75 yards and a score, but those are two positions you’d like to not be thin at as the Cowboys enter the October-November stretch.

5. OSU Can take it Back

After OSU’s loss to Iowa State, I wrote about the Cowboys’ need to start forcing turnovers. They had only created two turnovers in the first four games and sat at a -3 on the year in turnover margin. Apparently, they figured something out over the bye week.

In the win over the Wildcats, the Cowboys were plus-3 in TOs, with three interceptions and no giveaways. Cameron Epps was the up-and-coming hero with two of those picks, including one for a score. Nickolas Martin had the other to go along with a career-high 17 tackles and a sack. The defense was pretty great all night, but takeaways compound the positive and provide an emotional effect both ways.

If they can keep that up, it will provide another boon for the Cowboys’ offense as it continues to get its legs under it.

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