Cowboys make the grade against the Red Raiders
Another wild finish for Oklahoma State, but enough went right for the Cowboys to squeeze out a 45-44 win against Texas Tech. The grades reflect what went right and what didn't against the Red Raiders.
Mason Rudolph: A
Superb. Simply superb. The Cowboy quarterback was 20 of 28 for 395 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His quarterback rating – a whopping 213.5. Even though he took a couple sacks, he also scored on a tough 9-yard touchdown run. Yes, Texas Tech’s defense stinks, but the Red Raiders put pressure on Rudolph with their offense. The Red Raiders kept scoring points, so Rudolph knew that’s what he had to help the Cowboys do. And he delivered.
Once the Cowboys got to ballcarriers, they did a spectacular job to stop the Red Raiders. There weren’t a bunch of yards after initial contact was made. Texas Tech and its Air Raid offense are always going to stress defenses, but OSU didn’t make it worse by missing a ton of tackles. “We missed a few,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said, “but for the most part playing an offense that’s in space as much as Tech is, they really tackled pretty well.”
Untimely mistakes: C
Even though the Cowboys dominated large chunks of the game, they allowed the Red Raiders to stick around because of several untimely mistakes. The OSU defense had a coveted third-down stop in the second quarter negated by a Ramon Richards facemask. The OSU offense had a big gainer on a nifty play design snuffed out when Jalen McCleskey fumbled the ball. In the end, the missteps didn’t cost the Cowboys a victory, but stuff like that needs to get cleaned up for the final weeks of the season.
Third- and fourth-down defense: D
The Cowboy defense forced the Red Raiders to third down 17 times but allowed them to covert on eight of them. To make matters worse, three times that the Cowboys stopped them on third down, the Red Raiders went for it and got first downs all three times. It's great to force that many third and fourth downs, but allowing Tech to convert on 11 of 20 simply isn't good enough.
Special teams: B
After a so-so week at Kansas State, the Cowboys were much better kicking off and punting Saturday. Kickoff specialist Matt Ammendola had touchbacks on six of eight kicks, and on the other two, the coverage unit only allowed 31 yards combined. Zach Sinor put two of three punts inside the 20-yard line. Ben Grogan made everything he attempted, and in a game decided by a missed extra point, we know how big that is. But Texas Tech converted a fake punt and recovered one of two onside kicks, so that keeps special teams from getting an A.
Late-game management: A
An on-going bugaboo for the Cowboys this season wasn’t an issue Saturday. They managed the final 102 seconds of the game spectacularly. After getting the ball back near midfield with a one-point lead, the Cowboys had to get at least one first down. They picked up two on the first two snaps, the only glitch coming when Justice Hill stepped out of bounds and stopped the clock. On the next snap, Texas Tech’s defense looked like it was going to allow Chris Carson to score so its offense could get the ball back. Instead, he slid down and kept the clock going. Two snaps later, Carson picked up another first down and knelt down to keep not only possession but also the clock moving. Masterful stuff for a team that’s had end-of-game issues this season.
Veterans appreciation: B
The halftime on its own scores an A. The OSU marching band formed a giant heart with "U-S-A" inside it, then members held up purple fabric as Purple Heart recipients from several eras were honored. Super cool. And the pregame celebration on this Veterans Day weekend was good. Bullet’s rider held an American flag on her first on-field ride. Soldiers displayed a big American flag on the field during the national anthem. But there was no flyover. OSU rarely does flyovers – much to everyone’s chagrin – but not doing one on the day you honor veterans?
Game duration: D
College football has got to do something about these game times. Despite TV broadcasters’ decision to kill two second-half media timeouts in an attempt to speed the game along, OSU and Texas Tech needed 3 hours, 44 minutes to decide a winner. The passing offenses were part of the equation, but they weren’t the only culprit. There were several lengthy reviews, but only a couple of them were overturned. It made for another long game.
The Cowboys went all black. A great look. What’s more, they switched helmets after warm-ups, changing from an orange chrome look to a black helmet with an orange chrome facemask and a silver sheriff’s badge and barbed wire on the tops and sides. Really slick all the way around.