Look for a shootout Saturday when No. 17 Oklahoma State hosts Texas Tech in a game that is crucial to OSU hopes for a Big 12 championship.
The Cowboys are alone in second place in the Big 12 after a narrow come-from-behind 43-27 win at Kansas State and are one game back of league-leading Oklahoma.
“We’ve got a really good challenge with Texas Tech, trying to minimize their scoring and continuing to play well on offense,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday. “Their quarterback is a really good player as we all know. I think he’s a potential first-round pick. He reminds me a lot of Dak Prescott, when we played Dak at Mississippi State. He was younger at that time, but the style of play, body, strength, speed and ability to run and throw in different positions reminds me a lot of (Mahomes).
“”You can’t look at this game any different than any other game. We have to try to minimize big plays on defense, and offensively we have to execute and be sound in our game plan. We need to improve on special teams from last week. Then you just have to get in the flow of the game.
“We play a lot of games in this league where it isn’t easy to predict what the score will be, just because of the quarterback play and how explosive teams can be at any given time.”
While Tech (4-5, 2-4 in the Big 12) can’t win the conference title, the Red Raiders must win two of their next three games to become bowl eligible.
Tech lost to Texas 37-45 in a shootout Saturday.
“We’ve gotta execute at a high level and in this league you know you’ve got to keep up,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said after the Texas loss. “We’re not keeping up at times, and when we have those opportunities, we’re going 3 and out or floundering around the last couple of games, and that won’t get it done in this league.
“The last two weeks I felt like we had a bunch of stops where we had the ball and just kind of didn’t execute.”
Kickoff in Stillwater is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. OSU and Texas Tech are two teams that really like to pass and score, who don’t run the ball too much and aren’t great on defense.
Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes is leading the nation in passing yardage with 3,886, including 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph is No. 7 in the country with 2,989 yards passing, with 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Mahomes is completing 66 percent of his passes (306 of 458 attempts), ranking 14th in the nation while Rudolph is at No. 18 with 65 percent (214 of 329 attempts).
Mahomes is second in the country with 35.3 pass completions per game. Rudolph is No. 12 with 23.8 completions.
Rudolph is No. 19 when it comes to passing yards per completion, averaging almost 14 yards. Mahomes prefers shorter passes and is ranked No. 48, averaging 12.7 yards per completion.
In passing efficiency, Rudolph is No. 9 in the nation with a rating of 161. Mahomes ranks No. 15 with a similar rating of 156.
Texas Tech leads the nation in passing offense with 484 yards per game while Oklahoma State checks in at No. 7 with 342 yards per game.
Conversely, Texas Tech has a lousy running attack. The Red Raiders rank No. 124 (out of 128 in Division 1), averaging 101 yards rushing per game.
OSU is not a whole lot better. The Cowboys are No. 101 with 141 yards rushing per game.
And in terms of total defense, Tech is third from the bottom (No. 126), allowing 533 yards per game to opponents. OSU is better at No. 98, giving up 443 yards each game.
Against Kansas State, Rudolph passed for 457 yards and five touchdowns. He had two costly interceptions.
“It was tough,” Rudolph said about the interceptions.”I think one of those balls sat on the end and the other was a 50/50 ball trying to see who could make the play there. Regardless, our defense played great.”
For the eighth time in his career, Rudolph led OSU to victory despite trailing in the second half. OSU was behind, 37-28, with just under eight minutes left when Rudolph connected with James Washington on a deep post route that produced an 82-yard touchdown that swung momentum and put OSU in position to win. Following a defensive stop, Rudolph then led what amounted to the game-winning drive on the following possession.
Gundy said the Cowboys seem to play well when behind.
“We have done that before, we did that last year quite a bit,” Gundy said Saturday. “I am not sure why and I certainly do not favor it but what you are saying is exactly right. We were down 13, 9, and 9 and percentages are you are not going to come back very often.
“We stress never showing any fear, never showing any fatigue, and never showing any frustration in our organization. Two of those came to light by not showing frustration, from the coaches or players, we are not allowed to show frustration. I thought the fatigue in the latter part of the game that we were in better condition and more fresh than they [Kansas State] were today.”
Gundy said Rudolph played better after the interception
“I thought I played well all day,” Rudolph said. “Obviously I had a couple mistakes but I think my reads were good. I thought our coaches made good calls. We executed for the most part. They tried to make adjustments in the second half.”
Wideout James Washington had 117 receiving yards, including two touchdown catches.
“I felt like we never gave up,” Washington said. “We tried to make the best of every opportunity we had on the field.”
The victory marked the Cowboys’ sixth win in their last eight meetings with the Wildcats, their first win in Manhattan since 2010 and just the second since 1988.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was disappointed in the loss after leading most of the game.
“No, it was not a complete game,” Snyder said. “Maybe more of a complete game; I have to go back and reassess that, watch the tape, etc. We were inconsistent in the latter half of the ballgame; some good things, some not so good. Oklahoma State has a little bit to do with that, but once again it rests on our shoulders.”
Snyder saw some positives from his team’s effort.
“I am just hoping that they understand that as well and not let this pull them down,” Snyder said. “That has not been the nature of Kansas State football. It has always been to meet the challenge and having the persistence to work through things like this. It is amazing what six inches and no penalty would have meant to them.
“As I said to them, in all reality it is not the worst thing that is going to happen to them in their lives. The key moment is that it is a major test to our character, players and coaches alike. I like to believe that our guys will respond. I was not unhappy with our approach to the ballgame and the emotion for the ballgame.”
Kansas State averaged 102.3 rushing yards allowed before Saturday.
The Cowboys passed that on the first play of the second half and finished with 180 rushing yards, the most against KSU this year.
Justice Hill added 44 rushing yards and now has 663 for the season – sixth most by an OSU freshman.