Oklahoma State is two wins away from a Big 12 title

No. 13 Oklahoma State (8-2, 6-1 in the Big 12) is two wins away from a Big 12 Championship.

OSU kept their championship hopes alive Saturday with a narrow 45-44 win over pass-happy Texas Tech.

Oklahoma State is in charge of its own destiny.

OSU, alone in second place in the Big 12,  travels to TCU (5-4, 3-3) for an 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday. A win in Fort Worth by OSU would mean the winner of the December 3 Bedlam game with No. 8 Oklahoma would win the Big 12.

If Oklahoma beats No. 10 West Virginia Saturday and TCU tops OSU, the Sooners will win the Big 12 regardless of the outcome of the Bedlam game.

And believe it or not, Oklahoma State has a mathematical shot – albeit slight – to make the four-team national playoff with wins over TCU and OU.

Stranger things have happened. Last Saturday, five of the top nine teams in the nation lost. No. 1 Alabama is the only major undefeated team and five of the six teams ahead of OSU in the rankings have a loss.

It’s complicated but OSU took care of business by outlasting Texas Tech last Saturday.

OSU running back Rennie Childs said OSU would get stronger because of the narrow win.

“As a team, (we will) use this momentum to play TCU,” Childs said. “We’re going down there, so continue this momentum that we have and just play our hearts out.”

Linebacker Kirk Tucker said the Cowboy defense will need a lot of energy to beat TCU.

“Just making sure that we keep running to the ball, always,” Tucker said. “Make sure that we’re always competing, staying energized and keeping the sideline energized as well.”

OSU senior Zac Veatch agreed that great effort is the key.

“Just the same thing every week,” Veatch said. “Since West Virginia to Kansas State, just playing hard. There are obviously mistakes like too many turnovers. But just keep playing hard no matter what.”

Texas Tech’s Clayton Hatfield missed the extra point after Quinton White’s 1-yard scoring run with 1:39 left Saturday and Oklahoma State recovered the onside kick attempt and the Cowboys held on for the win.

“As always, if you come to a game in Stillwater during conference play, you’re probably going to get your money’s worth,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “I’ve said that each week. I was really proud of our team today in all three phases. We played a very similar game to what we played against West Virginia. Offensively, we were good. The quarterback (Mason Rudolph) was good, and we were able to rush the ball.

“Defensively, we started out really well, and then they made some plays. They’re going to make some plays. I think (Patrick) Mahomes is a first-round pick, and he showed that today in different areas. I suggested to him after the game that he comes out early, and if he’s looking for an agent, then we can find somebody. He’s a nice young man. When you play a team like that, that has a quarterback with those capabilities, then it’s going to be pretty exciting in the end.”

OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph threw for 395 yards against Texas Tech. and now has a season total of 3,384. It’s the sixth time an OSU quarterback has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in a season and the second time for Rudolph. His 2016 season now ranks as the fourth-most in school history.

Mahomes, the nation’s leading passer, completed 34 of 51 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

“It definitely hurts,” Mahomes said of the loss. “We had a lot of chances to win. They found a way to win. We didn’t. It is kind of like the whole season. But it hurts. We are going to go out there and fight. We have two games to get bowl eligible.”

“We ran the ball, and that’s something we haven’t done well this year. They have a good defense and we moved the ball.”

James Washington had six receptions for 158 yards, including an 82-yard TD with 6 seconds left in the third quarter that put the Cowboys ahead 45-35. Washington has caught a pass in 29-straight games.

Washington’s 158 receiving yards in the game marked the fifth time this year he’s surpassed 100 receiving yards in a game, and the fourth time he’s done it in the last five games. He now has 11 career 100-yard receiving games, fourth-most in OSU history.

OSU running back Justice Hill had 126 yards rushing and became the first freshman in Oklahoma State history to surpass 100 rushing yards in four games.

Hill now has 789 rushing yards this season. That total passes Kendall Hunter’s 2007 season and Andre Richardson’s total in 1994 for the fourth-most by a freshman in school history and is the most since Mike Hamilton set the school record in 2005 with 961.

“I think right now you have to start with the offensive line, they controlled the line of scrimmage,” said OSU Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich. “Our quarterback played extremely well, our tailbacks ran hard and the receivers caught the ball. We played with good tempo and our assistant coaches did a great job coaching this week from game planning to adjustments on the sideline to their overall ability to coach our guys. They deserve a lot of credit.

“It’s fun to be able to run the ball well. It gives you a tremendous balance. It takes the stress off the quarterback. It alleviates a lot of different pressures. We were able to call a couple of different looks. The guys in the box did a good job communicating. Whenever you’re able to have balance it makes it harder to defend. It was good control.”

The Texas Tech offense hadn’t had more than three 3-and-outs in a game this year entering today. OSU held TTU to three-straight 3-and-outs on its first three possessions, allowing just 11 rushing yards and 0 passing yards. TTU had four 3-and-outs in the game.

OSU used a new wrinkle on defense with a 3-3-5 alignment.

“We have sprinkled that scheme in, we just don’t do it on normal down defense,” said OSU Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer. “We have to play some three down and enter the fourth guy. You either bring four or you drop eight. It got us a few series I think and then it was players making great plays. The kids practiced well. It wasn’t totally new, it was just a lot more of that.”

Why the switch on defense?

“It’s a culmination of things,” Spencer said. “You study tape and you watch what’s been successful. Three down, four down, seven down, I don’t care. You do what you have to do to win the game. You look at what has been effective against them. This year we needed to invite them to run the football.”

The win extended the Cowboys’ current Big 12 winning streak to six games. Only three times before has OSU won six or more Big 12 games in a row. The Cowboys won seven in a row in 2011 and 2013, and won eight in a row from the end of 2014 through 2015. This was the Cowboys’ eighth-straight win over Texas Tech, dating back to 2008. The Cowboys are 10-2 vs. Texas Tech during the  Gundy era (2005-present). The Cowboys’ final home record is 6-1 this season, matching 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 for the season-high for home victories during the Mike Gundy era. Chris Lacy finished with a career-high 100 receiving yards. He becomes OSU’s fourth different receiver to surpass 100 receiving yards in a game this season.