LUBBOCK, Texas — The Cowboys are going to Jerry World.
Oklahoma State defeated Texas Tech 23-0 on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys are the first team to secure their spot at the other AT&T Stadium. Here are 10 thoughts from the contest.
1. Big 12 Title Game
OSU has arguably (maybe unarguably) been the second-best team in the Big 12 for the better part of the past 10 seasons, and now the bugaboo of having not made it to the Big 12 Championship game since its return has been rectified.
Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Baylor and Iowa State have all been to AT&T Stadium to compete for the Big 12 trophy, and now Mike Gundy’s mullet will flow in Jerry World, Jim Knowles will coach from the press box and Jaylen Warren will jump cut where the other Cowboys play.
The trip is past due for the Cowboys, but it’s an exciting time for OSU nonetheless.
2. Avoiding the Trap
This was the definition of a trap game, and the Cowboys didn’t fall for it.
With Bedlam, the Big 12 Championship and College Football Playoff hopes on the horizon, OSU overlooking a 6-4 Texas Tech that fired its head coach midway through the season had to have been a possibility. But, the Cowboys put on their tortilla blinders and did the work necessary to get to 10 wins.
3. 10 Wins
Speaking of 10 wins, this is the seventh time the Cowboys have reached double-digit wins under Mike Gundy.
Aside from Gundy’s tenure, OSU has reached 10 wins just three other times in history, all under Pat Jones. Gundy has pulled this particular work off in a different manner than his previous 10-win seasons, doing so with his defense. With how unique this one is, it might be his masterpiece, his magnum opus. How these next few games go will be a better indication of that, but 10 wins at Oklahoma State ought to be celebrated any time it comes.
“It means you’re doing good,” Gundy said. “It means that our organization and our culture is, as I said last week, stronger than it ever has been in my 17 years as a head coach.”
4. Defense Gets Its Shutout
OK, now we can gush about OSU’s defense.
This was the first time OSU shut out an opponent since the Pokes’ 84-0 shellacking of Savannah State in 2012. It’s the first time OSU’s defense shut out an FBS team since it shut out Fresno State 35-0 in 1997. It’s the first time the Cowboys shut out a conference opponent since they shut out Oklahoma 12-0 in 1995. It’s the first time Tech has been shutout at home since 1987.
The Red Raiders narrowly limped over the 100-yard threshold, finishing with 108. Tech had one more first downs than it did punts. It was utter domination.
This might be the best defense in OSU’s history, and it keeps hitting major landmarks. It has a Top 5 tackles in program history, and now Jim Knowles’ group can hang its collective hat on a shutout.
5. No Fun for Freshmen QBs
A week after Tech quarterback Donovan Smith torched Iowa State to the tune of 322 passing yards and three touchdowns, he was 9-for-28 for 83 yards and no touchdowns against the Cowboys. He also had -15 rushing yards on 10 carries opposed to his 50 from last weekend.
Tech had as many punts Saturday (nine) and Smith had completions (also nine).
It was a similar story last week when OSU’s defense stopped the Chandler Morris hype train in its tracks.
The Cowboys will face another freshman next weekend. Caleb Williams is in a little different boat than the past two. Williams has played more than Smith or Morris to this point, but he is also a true freshman, compared to two redshirt freshmen.
“When we get a young quarterback, I mean it makes everybody’s mouth water, to be honest, because it’s a chance for everybody to make plays and to give them disguises and work our magic,” OSU linebacker Devin Harper said. “It worked today and we came out and they got a goose egg.”
6. Sanders Returns to Lubbock, Avenges Wrongs
Spencer Sanders last trip out to West Texas didn’t go all too well, but he righted his wrongs on Saturday.
In his last game in Lubbock, a redshirt freshman Sanders accounted for five OSU turnovers. Saturday he led an offense that didn’t have one. Sanders also threw for 239 yards and a touchdown while adding a rushing TD to go with 48 yards.
It was tougher to see Sanders’ growth early in the season when he threw an ugly INT against Tulsa or the three picks he had against Baylor. But during this stretch that OSU has started clicking, Sanders has been just what the Cowboys’ need.
7. John Paul Richardson Shows Cowboys’ Slot Depth
Brennan Presley was only a punt returner Saturday as he has dealt with a minor injury and was unable to practice much.
In his place in the slot stepped true freshman John Paul Richardson, who looked stellar. Richardson caught two balls for 20 yards and a touchdown in which he sent a defender scrambling to the turf before catching it.
He nearly threw a touchdown as well, but Jaden Bray (another true freshman) lost his shoe and stumbled as the ball fluttered toward him.
8. Blaine Green, the Cowboy Back
With Braden Cassity out injured, OSU has used monstrous freshman receiver Blaine Green as a Cowboy back the past two weekends, and it’s been a lot of fun.
He certainly has the size for it at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. He caught three of his five targets Saturday for 46 yards. One of his catches was an acrobatic toe-tapping grab on the sideline that had to get reviewed it was so unbelievable.
9. Not Your Older Brother’s OSU/Tech Game
The past 10 meetings between the Cowboys and Red Raiders averaged 84.7 total points — there were, obviously, only 23 scored Saturday.
Gone are the days of Brandon Weeden dropping 66 and Mason Rudolph winning a 70-53 shootout. This one was all about defense and ball control.
10. Bring on Bedlam
Mike Gundy’s 2-14 Bedlam record is well-documented. It’s the one blemish in an otherwise Hall of Fame-level tenure.
Gundy isn’t going to be able to get all of that back this season, but he can make a dent in it, maybe even double his win total.
The Sooners haven’t been their invincible selves in 2021. Good quarterback play has come in spurts but been far less consistent. More importantly, OU’s offensive line is no longer the great wall it once was.
Whether the College Football Playoff wants this OSU team or not, this 2021 group of Cowboys has a chance to go down as one of the best teams in school history. That started with the outstanding performances OSU has put out to this point, but it continues in Bedlam — and it could further continue in a second Bedlam for a Big 12 title.
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