OSU football: Blowout win over Baylor provides needed reprieve for Cowboys
WACO, Texas — Backup quarterback Shane Illingworth was handing the ball to fifth-string, walk-on running back Micah Cooper in the final minutes of the game, and it wasn’t out of some horrible necessity.
Reserves filled the Oklahoma State lineup on both sides of the ball for half of the fourth quarter on Saturday. For Cowboy fans who had forgotten what a blowout victory looked like, their team provided a much-needed reminder, rolling over Baylor 42-3 at McLane Stadium.
“We hadn’t had many of those lately, so I didn’t actually know what to do with six or eight minutes to go,” said coach Mike Gundy, whose team has found its way into close games nearly all season. “I was still kind of chewing on guys and I guess I shouldn’t have been. But it was nice for us to have a really good win.”
It was nice for several reasons.
The Cowboy program needed some good vibes after some frustrating late-season struggles, an overwhelming number of injuries and the disappearance of the team’s biggest goals — particularly the pursuit of a Big 12 championship — over the last few weeks.
“Today was just an absolute blast, from an all around offense and defense perspective,” OSU receiver Dillon Stoner said. “We played great as a team.”
Prior to Saturday, the Cowboys had only two games all season with a final margin of more than two scores, but this one was different from the start.
Stoner led the charge with his 247-yard, three-touchdown performance that kicked off the rout with a 75-yard touchdown reception on the second snap of the game.
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True freshman running back Dominic Richardson added a boost with 169 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries in his first extensive action.
The defense allowed only 156 total yards, about half of which came in the fourth quarter to a Baylor team that was dealing with COVID-19 issues, and shut down football operations on Thursday. Baylor had 73 yards — five rushing and 68 passing with seven first downs — after three quarters.
“We were flying around out there. We were having fun,” senior linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez said. “We wanted to come out and make a statement.”
WIth eight tackles, Rodriguez led a defense that totaled 13 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and four sacks.
“We still know how to play really good defense here,” said junior safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, who had six tackles. “We’re still a really great team, regardless of how games have been going the past couple weeks.
“Coming off of last week, leaving kind of a sour taste in our mouth, we wanted to get back to just doing the things we’ve been doing all year — tackling well and moving the ball on offense. It feels good to end conference play with a win and go into bowl preparation riding high.”
The Cowboys concluded the regular season at 7-3 and will learn their bowl destination on Dec. 20.
Until then, they can relax and enjoy Saturday’s dominant performance.
“I’m just happy that we’re building a defensive culture here to match the offensive culture that we’ve had,” defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “Because you saw today that when we get both sides playing at that rate, we’re really tough to beat.”
Scott Wright covers OSU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ScottWrightOK. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.