The Game According to Guerin: It wasn’t just his 336 yards passing. Bowman did it without an interception on a day his KU counterpart Jason Bean threw two.
STILLWATER – Well that was wild.
From 14-0 ahead and unstoppable early, to 32-24 behind and in serious danger of falling further behind than that, to 39-32 winners on the strength of 554 yards of offense and a stunning defensive turnaround.
Quite a Saturday for the suddenly 4-2 Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Reason to feel better about the past
Mike Gundy at his press conference last Monday: “You have to stay balanced offensively now. Defenses have caught up to offensive football. If we don’t stay balanced it’s a tough night for us.”
OSU wasn’t as balanced against Kansas Saturday as it was the week before against Kansas State, but the Cowboys’ season-high 218 rushing yards was still a critical complement to Alan Bowman’s 336 passing yards.
My how things have changed. OSU couldn’t run or throw effectively against Arizona State and South Alabama in nonconference and sputtered to yardage totals of 304 and 208 those back-to-back September Saturdays.
OSU ran and threw on Kansas, getting steady production from all parties and explosive moments from Ollie Gordon and Rashod Owens.
Reason to worry about the future
The Cowboys lost at Iowa State Sept. 23 because they, as Gundy put it, “dropped coverage.” The Cowboys could have easily lost to Kansas Saturday for the same reason.
KU tight end Mason Fairchild was all by himself on easy 30- and 44-yard touchdown catches. Quentin Skinner burned safety Tre Rucker and cornerback D.J. McKinney on his 49- and 42-yard touchdown grabs. Trevor Wilson worked free of Rucker for a 49-yard touchdown.
OSU tightened down defensively and didn’t allow a point over the game’s final 20 minutes. Rover Kendal Daniels made the game’s biggest defensive play with his end zone interception to deny Kansas a 39-27 third-quarter lead.
Still, Jason Bean had 342 yards and 5 touchdown passes through the first drive of the third quarter, a product of both his sharpness and the OSU secondary’s softness.
Coach who can put up his feet and crack a beer
Gordon had nine touches against Central Arkansas, 11 at Arizona State and 5 against South Alabama to begin the season. Someone on the OSU staff needed to suggest it might spark the offense to do better than that, given Gordon’s prominence as the Cowboys’ most dynamic back.
Let’s assume that someone was OSU running backs coach John Wozniak.
Gordon had 22 touches and 124 rushing yards at Iowa State, then 22 and 140 rushing yards against K-State. Just getting warmed up.
Gordon’s final line against Kansas: 29 carries for 168 yards and 6 catches for 116 yards for a total of 35 touches for 284 yards. Plus a pair of touchdowns.
Coach headed straight back to the film room
Take your pick between cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie and safeties coach Dan Hammerschmidt.
Yes, Daniels and Dylan Smith arrived to make timely interceptions and help tilt the outcome in OSU’s favor.
But also yes, Bean shredded the Cowboys’ pass coverage until those back-to-back picks.
Next week OSU travels to West Virginia. Mountaineers quarterback Garrett Greene just passed for a career-high 391 yards at Houston.
The Cowboys shouldn’t have as much trouble against Emory Jones and Cincinnati Oct. 28, but next is Bedlam Nov. 4. If Bean and the Jayhawks can hit OSU for 342 yards and 5 scores in one half and one drive, imagine what Dillon Gabriel and the Sooners are capable of if Duffie and Hammerschmidt don’t start covering holes.
Collin Oliver’s ferocity and Gordon’s production stood out for OSU Saturday, but let’s not put Bowman on the back burner. It wasn’t just his 336 yards but his no interceptions on a day Bean threw two.
Bowman’s standout moment was one of his simplest throws, a 7- or 8-yard check-down to Brennan Presley off a first-quarter flea-flicker from the Kansas 20-yard line. The deception was supposed to spring a receiver in the end zone but KU didn’t bite. That forced Bowman to throw short to Presley in the flat.
Fortunately, Presley had open space, got a head of steam and cut right by linebackers Craig Young and Taiwan Berryhill en route to the 20-yard score.
Bowman celebrated his quick thinking by jumping into the arms of left tackle Dalton Cooper as OSU took a 14-0 lead.
Name to remember: OSU cornerback Dylan Smith
The Cowboys’ game notes showed Smith, the true freshman younger brother of OSU corner Cam Smith, had played in just one contest before Kansas. He had no statistics.
And here he was intercepting Bean with 10:42 remaining and OSU trailing 32-30.
The pass was tipped by redshirt freshman DeSean Brown, the biggest play of his young career for that matter, before settling into Smith’s hands at the KU 28-yard line.
It marked back-to-back interceptions by the OSU secondary to snuff out the momentum KU had gathered by driving 75 yards for a touchdown to open the second half.
From the postgame Twitter/X feed of OSU 247Sports reporter McLain Baxley…
Oliver on Gordon: “Ollie for Heisman. Get it going.”
Could you repeat that?
Lance Leipold, upset that his Jayhawks were hit with a post-play unsportsmanlike conduct penalty earlier in the drive, and that Oliver wasn’t flagged for offsides on his decisive fourth-and-5 strip-sack of Bean late in the game: “It’s amazing sometimes what’s decided to be called and what’s not in this league.”