Okie State Keeping it Close Again
I guess this is how Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1 in Big 12) is going to win or lose games in the Big 12 this season — close.
For the third straight week, the Cowboys either won or lost a league game by eight or fewer points. The game see-sawed. The Cowboys led, 17-7, after the first quarter, then were down 25-24, at the break. In the third quarter Kansas was up 32-24, but it seemed like the Jayhawks were more in control of the game than the score indicated.
The Cowboys had to settle for field goals at time, like last week against Kansas State. This time, Alex Hale wasn’t quite as reliable, but he still went 4-for-5.
But the Cowboys defense, despite giving up nearly 500 yards of offense to Kansas, stepped up again and created turnovers. Kendal Daniels and Dylan Smith each had one for the Cowboys. They held the Kansas ground game under 100 yards after it dominated UCF last week. And it stonewalled Kansas on a fourth-and-one with 1:57 left, basically sealing the game.
Running back Ollie Gordon II had a monster game, rushing for 168 yards and catching six passes for 116 yards and two total touchdowns. In doing so, he became the first Cowboys running back with more than 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game since 1990.
Plus, quarterback Alan Bowman grew offensively once again, passing for 336 yards and throwing two touchdowns. More importantly, no interceptions.
The Duality of Mr. Bean
Kansas (5-2, 2-2) quarterback Jalon Daniels hasn’t played since the Jayhawks’ win over BYU in late September. His injury status has become a week-to-week watch and, in his place, Jason Bean has played quarterback.
On Saturday, the Jayhawks finally unleased Bean and it worked out — for a while.
Bean blew up in the first half, as he had 274 passing yards and four touchdowns.
This was Bean’s first big game of the season. He threw for 136 yards and a touchdown in a 40-14 loss to Texas. But Bean only found out he would start against Texas a couple of hours before the game. The following week against UCF he only threw for 91 yards and a touchdown as the Jayhawks built their 51-22 win around the running game.
Facing OSU seemed to require Kansas to flip the script. Or, perhaps because Kansas ran the ball so much the previous week the Cowboys were already buying in on stopping the run and the Jayhawks adjusted.
By game’s end, Bean threw for 410 yards and five touchdowns. The problem was that Bean’s ball security became an issue in the second half. He threw two interceptions — his first two after 86 consecutive attempts this season without one — and also fumbled the ball late in the game. Kansas recovered it but had to punt and Oklahoma State took that for the go-ahead score.
Bean has been solid in Daniels’ stead, but the more you ask him to do the more you’re asking for mistakes, and those finally came in the second half on Saturday.
Cowboys Have Path to Arlington
It’s a long way to until the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, but with only one undefeated team — Oklahoma — and a roster of one-loss teams, any team that holds at one loss has a chance.
That means it’s time to start looking ahead for OSU, since they handed Kansas their second league loss on Saturday.
Oklahoma State has an manageable path to remaining in contention. They’re one of the few Big 12 teams that will face all of the new teams, and they’re all ahead — Cincinnati on Oct. 28, UCF on Nov. 11, Houston on Nov. 18 and BYU on Nov. 25.
Next week the Cowboys get West Virginia, which is coming off an awful loss to Houston on the road.
The Cowboys match up well on paper with all of those teams.
Then, there’s Bedlam, which is at home against OU on Nov. 4. That’s an anything can happen kind of game. And, OSU is 6-0 in its last six meetings with ranked teams at Boone Pickens Stadium. One has to assume OU will still be ranked next month?
So, there’s a path for the Cowboys now, and that’s something that was absolutely in question after it lost back-to-back games against South Alabama and Iowa State before their bye week.
As for Kansas, it will need help now, but one more win and the Jayhawks will be bowl eligible for the second straight year in under Lance Leipold.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.