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Instacap: OSU Stunned at Home in Big 12 Opener, 44-31 Against TCU



Down two scores on the TCU 23 late in the fourth quarter, Jalen McCleskey threw an interception. That is not a sentence I saw myself typing four hours ago.

Oklahoma State lost to the Horned Frogs 44-31 after a performance that was down there with the Cowboys’ 2016 Bedlam showing. McCleskey’s pick was just like throwing motor oil on spoiled milk.

It was inexplicable, unconceivable and plain depressing, especially with a potential Heisman Trophy winner finally spinning the ball.

Hope was building inside Boone Pickens Stadium at that point. Midway through the third quarter, Mason Rudolph led a charge down the field that ended in a beautifully-coordinated Dillon Stoner touchdown. For seemingly the first time in the Cowboys’ Big 12 opener, there was life.

It was extinguished quickly. The TCU offense responded with a touchdown drive of their own, which featured everything OSU struggled with Saturday, dismal run defense, a penalty and a play that shouldn’t have counted.

That put TCU up 34-17 before they made another field goal to make it 37-17. OSU scored to make it 37-24, and again the tides seemed to turn. But driving to make it a one-score game, No. 1 threw the pick.

However, after the McCleksey interception, the defense got another stop, and Rudolph hit the ill-throwing receiver down the sideline.

Somehow the Cowboys found themselves down only 6 points with 3:03 left and holding onto a pair of timeouts. OSU forced a third and 4. Then the saloon doors swung open.

Characteristic of the Cowboys’ play all day Saturday, TCU running back Darius Anderson went untouched for a 42-yard touchdown run through OSU’s hopes at a perfect season and perhaps a berth in the College Football Playoff.

That was the dagger. The Cowboys’ inability to tackle, particularly on third down, crippled their chances at a comeback. Looking more like the defense against Tulsa, TCU converted 11-of-19 third-down opportunities and made Cowboy fans’ shoulders slump.

TCU punted just twice, and there were zero three-and-outs until the fourth quarter when Calvin Bundage sacked Kenny Hill.

Turnovers turned bad to porous. Rudolph lost a fumble and threw two interceptions, and of course McCleskey’s pick, which will never be forgotten. Meanwhile TCU fumbled three times and recovered all three. Despite a Tre Flowers interception, OSU lost the turnover battle 4-1. OSU is now 1-9 under Mike Gundy when losing the turnover battle by three or more.

With three injured OSU linemen, TCU deployed a handful of frankly underrated cornerbacks to defend the Cowboy receivers. Rudolph scrambled about as much as he did throughout OSU’s first three games combined, which resulted in a 54 percent completion rate. His passes wobbled at times, and he was on the run all day.

The Cowboys are used to the comeback victory, as many of you must have remembered last season’s 17-point comeback against Iowa State, but it wasn’t to be. The OSU defense made Kenny Hill look more like Trevone Boykin, missing several sack opportunities.

The loss marked the Cowboys’ second straight loss in their Big 12 opener. They get Texas Tech in Lubbock next week.

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