Oklahoma State survived an ugly three-turnover deficit and heads into its bye week unscathed. Whether you call them fortunate or resilient depends on perspective, but regardless of you look at it, the Pokes are 5-0 for the first time in six years.
There was a lot to like about the Cowboys’ win over Baylor, but it wasn’t all pretty. Here’s the best and the worst from the Cowboys’ fifth win.
Best Game: Jaylen Warren
Warren bookended OSU’s offensive output against Baylor, starting with a 21-yard run on the first play of the game and ending with this game-sealing score with two minutes left. And he was pretty busy in between.
Warren is the Cowboys’ workhorse and the engine that makes them go. He finished with this third consecutive 100-yard game and is currently third in the Big 12 in rushing yards. Despite totaling just 20 carries over his first two outings, he’s leading the Big 12 in rush attempts and is No. 3 nationally. He’s also first in the league (and second nationally) in plays from scrimmage.
Worst Game: No. 3
A week after having maybe the best game of his career, Sander had one of his worst throwing three interceptions.
Mike Gundy, who’s says he’s lived that life, can comment on his third-year QB and things that need to be cleaned up.
“That was too much, OK, and he knows that,” said Gundy. “I’m not going to single him out, but if he were sitting here he would agree with me. He had some errant throws tonight, and it cost us a couple times.
“… We got to try to minimize those mistakes. And he misfired on some throws.”
To be fair, Sanders’ third pick was a dart right through the mitts of Rashod Owens that bounced off of the freshman receiver’s facemask. If we’re ranking his interceptions from Saturday, that was his most innocent. However, if you’re having to rank your interceptions…
Sanders did have his moments, finding Tay Martin for several big plays and using his feet to extend several of OSU’s possessions. But you can’t leave points on the field and put your defense in those situations and expect it not to bite you, eventually.
Best Cleanup: OSU’s Defense
Those three turnovers not only resulted in zero Baylor points, they resulted in zero Baylor first downs. Jim Knowles’ crew followed up each Sanders pick by forcing a three-and-out. The Bears broke free for a couple of chunk plays down the stretch, but the Cowboys have a legitimate defense that can bail them out of tough spots and that’s a luxury.
“… defensively, we turned the ball over and gave it to him twice, maybe inside the 40, or once inside the 30,” said Gundy. “We were fortunate tonight to pull that off. So guys keep playing well on defense, giving us a chance.”
Best Freshman Performance: Collin Oliver
With the Cowboys’ established edge rushers like Trace Ford and Brock Martin sidelined, OSU leaned even heavier on true frosh Collin Oliver. And he appears able to handle the load.
Due to a boxscore malfunction, his final line is not exactly clear. But from what I can piece together, Oliver finished with six total tackles (five solo), three tackles for loss, three QB hurries and two sacks. Those would all be career highs for the rookie.
But what I can say for certain is that he was a problem for Baylor’s O-line.
“He’s gonna gain confidence each week,” said Gundy. “He’s playing too many plays for his age, just like (Jaylen Warren) got too many carries tonight. … (Oliver) doesn’t need that many plays yet, but we’re beat up at that spot. So, he’s got to play. So my concern, it becomes him being healthy, mentally and physically. He’s young, playing in there in the trenches, so on so forth. But he’s holding up OK.
“He’s gonna get to the quarterback a bunch in his career.”