OSU's victory was not easy. It should have been easy.
HOUSTON — Oklahoma State capped a remarkable turnaround from September with a 31-23 victory over Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl on Wednesday night, giving the Cowboys a 10-4 record.
OSU was 2-2 in September and without identity. But the Cowboys charged to the Big 12 Championship and posted the program’s eighth double-digit victory season in the last 14 years.
Here is Sellout Crowd’s reaction:
This should have been an easy win
Berry Tramel: OSU’s victory was not easy. It should have been easy.
Texas A&M was missing 13 starters; due to the transfer portal, injury or just skipping the game to get on with their National Football League attempts. The Aggies also were playing without their former head coach, Jimbo Fisher, and their future head coach, Mike Elko. And A&M played all but the first snap with Marcel Reed, its fourth-team quarterback.
So winning by eight points is not overly impressive. But OSU will take it. What do the Cowboys care about A&M’s problems? They know the feeling — remember the Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. Wisconsin last year — and will gladly take a victory over a Southeastern Conference foe.
The OSU offense was mostly good against a crippled A&M defense, and the OSU defense was mostly not good against a weakened A&M offense.
Still, the arrow is pointing up for the Cowboys, with 10 wins and lots of momentum going into the landmark season of 2024.
Dominance never materialized for the Cowboys
Jenni Carlson: Lots of fireworks in Houston. Big plays. Highlight moments. That was expected from the OSU offense, what with Texas A&M being so depleted by opt-outs and transfers after the coaching change.
But the Aggies had lots of big moments, too. They rolled up well over 300 passing yards and more than 400 total yards of offense. They intercepted Alan Bowman twice.
Kudos to the Aggies for playing hard despite everything that the program has gone through, but geez, the Cowboys should’ve been dominant. I understand bowls have become largely irrelevant because of all the turnover and upheaval in the weeks after the regular season, but when you’ve got a team that hasn’t experienced a bunch of turnover and upheaval, you need to assert your will.
Would’ve been nice to see OSU do that much more against Texas A&M.
Brennan Presley deserves to get the ball 20 times a game
Ben Hutchens: Brennan Presley tied a record that stood for 74 years. He caught 16 passes, matching Alex Loyd in 1949 against Kansas.
But why stop at 16? It’s never a bad time to get him the ball. Presley even completed a 34-yard pass to Rashod Owens on a reverse that set up a touchdown.
It’s a fitting mark for Presley, the do-it-all gadget guy OSU fans have grown to love so much to hold. He threatened the record earlier this season against Houston when he caught 15 passes for 189 yards.
A Texas-sized difference from the feelings of last year
Sam Hutchens: About a year ago, a 7-5 Oklahoma State team came out flat against Wisconsin in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. The Cowboys were in the midst of roster turmoil, and it showed in a 24-17 loss to the far-from-mighty Badgers.
This year feels different. Sure, it shows on the scoreboard. OSU won. But mid-tier bowl wins aren’t worth much of anything these days. It feels different because it feels like OSU is building something. Excitement about next year’s roster has supplanted last year’s panic. That is OSU’s biggest win of bowl season.
The three unsung heroes of OSU’s win
Todd Lisenbee: Even though Brennan, Rashod and Ollie put up video game numbers for the Cowboys, it was another trio of players that saved the day: Xavier, Nick and Leon.
Texas A&M had scored on their first two drives of the second half and was marching down the field to make it a one-score game. That’s when Xavier Benson punched the ball out of the hands of A&M’s Amari Daniels. Nick Martin fell on it at the 1. The Cowboys could breathe, if only for a moment.
The turnover was good, but Oklahoma State needed to get their backs off of the goal line. A punt back to A&M wouldn’t do much to stop the Aggie momentum. Enter Leon Johnson, whose circus catch gave the Cowboys 33 yards and a big first down. The drive ended in a Bowman interception, but it succeeded in stopping the momentum, allowed the Cowboys defense to breathe, and helped deliver another 10-win season to the Cowboy faithful.