Even with the best offense and best quarterback in America, the No. Oklahoma State Cowboys relied on great defensive play to squeak past unranked Texas, 13-10 last Saturday in Austin.
Cowboy quarterback Mason Rudolph leads the nation in passing yardage (2,650) and OSU has the top passing offense (392 yards per game) and total offense (4,092 yards) in America.
The OSU offense did manage 428 yards against the Longhorns (282 passing, 146 rushing) but the story was the defense, which limited Texas to 283 total yards and only 43 yards on the ground.
“Defense won the game, offense couldn’t move the ball, made too many mistakes on special teams,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “I had my speech ready whether we won or lost. You guys watched the same game. Texas is good on defense. They dropped eight and played coverage. We didn’t run the ball very well. We made too many mistakes trying to block people. We went down a lineman, put another guy in and didn’t play very well. Then we couldn’t convert short yardage, couldn’t kick field goals, weren’t very good at kickoff, and their punter is — did he win the Ray Guy Award last year? Yeah, he should have won it.
“So, essentially for us, a game filled with mistakes, other than on defense. I told the team in there it was the best defensive play that I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t remember very many years back now, but I’m going to say long as I’ve been a head coach, on the road, I’ve never seen a defense play like that, and in dealing with all the adversity. We just kept putting them back on the play, they made a play, put them back on the field, put them back on the field, put them back on the field, over and over and over and over, they just kept making plays.”
Rudolph passed for 282 yards today, ending his national-best streak of 300-yard passing games at seven.
“They play a lot of cover two,” Rudolph said. “Taking away the deep ball and a lot of our bread-and-butter stuff. It just called for running the ball effectively. We kind of struggled at times. We had our right guard go down briefly. We didn’t finish drives. Just got down on the score a few times. The missed field goal. It should’ve been six obviously. In the first half we just have to get touchdowns when you get down there. There were obviously fewer times we were in the score zone, in the red zone. They played a lot of cover two and tried to take away the deep, deep stuff.”
Rudolph praised the OSU defense.
“They did a heck of a job,” Rudolph said. “I don’t think I could’ve been happier with the end result play that happened (an interception in the end zone in overtime). The lone guy two-feet down and in bounds. It was awesome. That is one of those games that you are going to look back at and say, ‘Hey, hats off to the defense they played an unbelievable game.’ There are always those games where your offense carries you, and we are kind of known for that on the offense. But hats off to the defense. They did a heck of a job today and made plays and unbelievable stops.”
OSU safety Ramon Richards sealed the victory when he intercepted a Texas pass in the end zone in overtime.
“I didn’t even know it was the end of the game when I caught the pick,” Richards said. “I still thought the offense had to go to the other end zone. Then I saw everyone rush the field. I have to give it to our fans. We have some great fans from Oklahoma State, so I appreciate them.
“We stress that we don’t show frustration. We don’t show fatigue. If we drop a pass or miss a field goal, we don’t show frustration or fatigue in the fourth quarter. We also never show fear.”
Running back Justin Hill finished with 117 rushing yards to mark his fourth straight 100-yard game.
“We were just trying to find ways to run the football,” said OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “That was going through our head pretty much the whole game. It took us out of, obviously, our tempo. You’ve just got to get specific with your run calls. But when they’re playing that double cloud with the guy in the middle, you’ve just got to find ways to run the football.”
Texas played a prevent defense with eight players back to stop the OSU passing attack.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Yurcich said. “It’s a three-down front, basically, so with a lunar run package you don’t have a lot of bells and whistles, you want your guys to be good at a few things. We pride ourselves on that, and so it gives our guys a chance up front to be very good at their techniques. That’s the reasoning behind that. So when you face a different tweak within a defense, you’ve got to be able to adjust, and sometimes those schemes that you practiced all week, if they’re not working, you’ve got to be able to call on something else. And that’s something we’ve got to do a better job of. That’s something that we can control, and that’s something I’ve got to do a better job of.”
OSU is the only school in the country to win five straight vs. Texas in Austin. OSU has won three straight, four of its last five and six of its last eight games vs. Texas. The Cowboys are bowl eligible for the 12th consecutive season.
The win over Texas kept the Cowboys (6-1, 3-1 in the Big 12) in the thick of the conference race. A loss would have put OSU two games behind TCU, who gave the Cowboys their only loss this season.
Oklahoma State now faces four tough games: on the road against No. 22 West Virginia; at home against No. 10 Oklahoma; on the road against surprising No. 25 Iowa State and at home against always-tough Kansas State.
West Virginia (5-2, 3-1 in the Big 12) opened the year with a loss at No. 21 Virginia Tech and then fell to league-leading No. 3 TCU, 24-31. UWV has beaten Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech – three teams in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings.
Mountaineer quarterback Will Grier has hit 177 of 267 pass attempts (66 percent) for 2,467 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Grier was named Newcomer of the Week for the fourth time this week after the Mountaineers beat winless Baylor, 38-36, in Waco.
In that win, Grier went 26-of-37 for 375 yards and five touchdowns. It marked Grier’s second consecutive week of throwing for five touchdowns, while he topped 300 yards passing for the sixth time this season.
In the national rankings, Grier is No. 1 in passing touchdowns (26), No. 4 in passing yards per game (352.4), No. 5 in passing efficiency (172.3) and No. 7 in passing yards (2,467).
WVU running back Justin Crawford is averaging 91 yards a game rushing. Wideout David Sills has caught 15 touchdown passes and averages 105 yards per game. Receiver Gary Jennings is close behind, averaging 100 yards per game (but only one touchdown).
West Virginia is scoring 43 points per game and giving up 29 points. The Mountaineers are somewhat balanced, averaging 198 yards per game on the ground and 261 yards passing.
One weak spot for West Virginia could be time of possession. UWV averages 27:46 per game while opponents have the ball an average of 32:14.
Oklahoma State travels to West Virginia for an 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday with a game that will be televised on ABC.