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Texas Bowl Grades: Oklahoma State Passes in All Phases and More

On all phases, uniforms and Ollie’s acting



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Oklahoma State had already passed regardless of the grade on the final exam, but overachieving is always nice.

The same Cowboys who were 2-2 in September reached 10 wins with a 31-23 victory against Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl on Wednesday night in Houston. At one point, OSU even reaching a bowl was in question, so getting to 10 wins seems like a student missing the first month of class and still walking out with an A.

Here are grades from the Cowboys’ final exam of the season.

Offense: A

Obviously nothing is perfect, but I couldn’t think of an aspect where the OSU offense struggled against the Aggies.

There was that first possession where the Cowboys stalled at the two-yard line and settled for a field goal, and Alan Bowman’s two interceptions, which are why there’s not an A+ here, but both of those were made up for, I believe. Bowman quietly broke the OSU record for most passing yards in a bowl game with 402. The Cowboys were 5-5 in the red zone, settling for a field goal only that first drive.

Although missing some assets, Texas A&M entered the game with the ninth-best defense in the country, giving up 295 yards a game. The Cowboys nearly doubled that, putting up 570 total yards Wednesday night.

Most of the Aggies’ success this season came from stopping the run with the 17th-ranked rush defense giving up 106.7 yards a game at the end of the regular season. Facing the Doak Walkler Award winner, stopping OSU’s ground game was even more of an emphasis for A&M in the Texas Bowl, which opened up more for OSU’s receivers (more later). Even with extra dudes in the box, OSU still had 134 rushing yards, as Ollie Gordon ran for 118 and averaged 4.4 yards a carry. Not great, but definitely not bad either against an SEC defense.

With that extra help inside, OSU’s receivers, particularly Rashod Owens and Brennan Presley, stepped up to make it where the Cowboys didn’t have to rely on their ground game. Of OSU’s 436 passing yards (Presley had a 34-yard pass to Owens), Owens and Presley were on the other end of 316, and Owens caught both of Bowman’s touchdown passes.  Leon Johnson III also made a few spectacular grabs, pulling in four passes for 86 yards.

So many offensive standouts deserving credit from Wednesday night means the offense had an ace showing.

Defense: B+

Texas A&M put up 445 yards and averaged 7.4 yards a play against OSU, but the Cowboys still held the Aggies under their scoring average and forced a pair of turnovers. If not for the Aggies finding the end zone on back-to-back drives to make this game close and being led by a backup quarterback, this would easily be another A  on the report card for the Pokes.

The Cowboys flipped the script in this one, keeping A&M out of the end zone in the first half. Bryan Nardo had a knack this season for making halftime adjustments that turned around the defense in the second half after rough starts. The Aggies scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half in this game, though.

But after that, OSU forced a fumble, a three-and-out and an interception in three of A&M’s last four drives of the game.

OSU also added two sacks and three tackles for loss, and held A&M to 4-for-11 on third down and 2.9 yards a carry.

Special Teams: C-

Special teams wasn’t good or bad for the Cowboys in Houston.

Alex Hale was 1-for-2 on field goals, making his first from 19 yards and missing his last from 47. He was also 4-4 on PATs. Punters Hudson Kaak and Wes Pahl averaged 37.7 yards on only three punts. Kaak did shank one for 26 yards, though.

Cs get degrees, though, so special teams was still good enough for the Cowboys to win.

Uniforms: B-

I’m not really a black or white guy, I feel like there should always be an orange area.

The white-black-white combo with Cursive Cowboys was definitely a clean look, but America’s Brightest Orange should always be included, especially in a bowl game. But the reason for this low grade (by OSU uniform standards) is not even the equipment staff’s fault.

These black jerseys were quite the topic on social media because many believed they looked navy blue, often being compared to Auburn. These were the same black tops OSU wore three other times this season, though, and nothing was mentioned then. ESPN’s broadcast was blamed for the blue tone, but people at NRG Stadium also said they appeared navy, referencing a blue strip of light at the top of the venue.

It reminded me of that infamous divisive dress, and although I still can’t tell you what color that dress actually was, I can assure you the Cowboys wore black jerseys in the 2023 Texas Bowl.

Ollie Gordon’s Acting: F

Ollie Gordon had quite the flop in the second half when a Texas A&M defender lightly bumped him near the sideline after a carry. Gordon looked like he was trying to take a charge in an NBA game, but even Lebron is less obvious than what Gordon tried Wednesday night. The flop was to no avail, though, as the ref just watched and never reached for his flag.

This wasn’t Gordon’s only acting gig of the week, either. He appeared in a video with Pistol Pete and OSU president Kayse Shrum on Christmas Eve to announce his return to Stillwater in 2024.

Gordon has already won a Doak Walker Award, and a Heisman Trophy could also very well be in his future, too, but I don’t think Gordon will be bringing an Oscar to Stillwater.

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