Three games – beginning with Iowa State Saturday – stand between Oklahoma State and a probable spot in the playoff for the college football championship.
Should OSU defeat ISU, No. 4 Baylor and No. 12 Oklahoma, the Cowboys would be outright champions of the Big 12 Conference and undoubtedly included in the playoff as a champion of one of the “Big Five” conferences.
OSU is in this position because the underdog Cowboys clobbered TCU in Stillwater Saturday, 49-29.
After trailing Baylor and TCU in the polls all season, OSU proved that the Big 12 is not a two team race. And in case of a tie, OSU now holds the tiebreaker over TCU.
“I’m really proud of our team,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “I’m proud of our coaches and I thought the defensive staff did a tremendous job in their game plan. The players bought in, and we reduced their reps in practice this week to try and keep them fresh. It worked for us. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m just really proud of the guys for being able to run them down some and make some plays.
“Offensively, we were able to get the deep ball going. We felt like that would be an advantage for us going into the game. Mason [Rudolph] did a great job with getting the ball to the people that we needed to. J.W. [Walsh] was able to come in and run his package effectively at that point in the game.
“It was a great win for us, obviously. I’m really proud of everyone in the program. I thought the fans were tremendous. We’ll enjoy this one, move forward and go back to work tomorrow.”
“You have to give Coach Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys a lot of credit,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson. “They kicked our butts. You can’t give up big plays, and you can’t turn the ball over. If you do that, you’re not going to win big ballgames. They had 30 plays and 28 points in the first half. We fought our way back into it. Basically, the defense gave up one touchdown in the second half, but it was too late. You have to score and get yourself back into things. I give them all the credit.”
This was the fifth time that the Cowboys have beaten a team ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll since 2008. OSU improved to 9-0, marking just the third time in school history that the Cowboys have been undefeated after nine games. The previous occasions came as part of the two most successful seasons in school history – 1945 and 2011. The 2011 squad went 12-1, won the Big 12 championship and missed out on a spot in the BCS national championship game by just 0.0086 of a point in the BCS computer system. The 2011 team went on to beat Andrew Luck and No. 4 Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.
That lone loss in 2011 was to Iowa State in Ames.
Against TCU, quarterback Mason Rudolph threw four touchdown passes in the first half. Rudolph finished with five touchdowns, topping his previous career high of three. Rudolph had 352 passing yards, his fourth game of 300 or more yards in his career. All of them have come this season.
TCU hadn’t given up more than two touchdown passes in a game before Saturday.
Receiver James Washington hauled in two catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the first nine minutes of play. Including the last game, Washington scored four touchdowns on consecutive touches, with gains of 75, 73, 48 and 50 yards (246 yards total).
“He’s put together two tremendous games, back-to-back,” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said of Washington. “That’s the big thing is that he’s consistent. The thing is, if they double cover him, somebody else has single coverage and we said earlier in the week, we have to find the single coverage matchups and throw to the one-on-one. Our guys are going to win those a majority of the time. That’s where we have to go with the ball.”
Washington finished with 184 receiving yards. The most TCU had given up to a player prior to today was 147 by ISU’s Allen Lazard.
“We felt like we had an advantage with the way they were defending us and singling him up,” said Gundy. “We think we’ve got a few guys who have the ability to make a deep play, and he’s certainly got the ability to run down the field and get open. It worked out for us. You don’t know if it’s always going to work, but it just happened to work in this game.”
“During the week, the coaches and our scout team players gave us the exact look, and it helped me to be effective in the game,” Washington said. “Coming into the game I just thought to myself that I have to do my 111 percent. I really just came in and tried to do what I could do to help the team win.”
The OSU defense picked off Boykin four times, the most times the TCU QB has been intercepted in a game in his career.
“You’re not going to come into an environment like this and have four turnovers and expect to win a game,” said Boykin. “We played a great football team, and Coach Gundy is a great coach, so props to those guys.”
Oklahoma State also picked him off three times in 2013.
“We played base defense and ran to the football,” Gundy said. “There wasn’t anything special about what we did, other than some minor things Xs and Os-wise. I said this before, if there was an answer for [Trevone Boykin] from a scheme standpoint, somebody would have already used it. The answer is to chase the ball down and tackle him in space, in our opinion.”
TCU entered the game ranked second nationally with 136 first quarter points (17 per game). The OSU defense held TCU to nine points in the first quarter, marking their lowest in the opening quarter this season. The OSU defense followed that with a second-quarter shutout, marking just the second time this season TCU has failed to score in a quarter.
“I want someone to look at the stats and tell me we had a bad game so that I can laugh it off,” said OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “For these guys, this was outstanding, and I’m so proud of them. It was a huge night. There were 110 gradeable snaps so they probably played 120 when you take off penalties and such. Those guys are exhausted.”
The Cowboys rose to 5-0 at home this year and 43-9 in their last 52 games played in Boone Pickens Stadium dating back to the start of the 2008 season.
The Cowboys improved to 26-6 in their last 32 games played against teams from the state of Texas dating back to 2009.