The Oklahoma State Cowboys hosted the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday in a game that looked like many other Big 12 games in the Heartland in Week 9: nasty, damp and cold. With temperatures in the high 30’s in Stillwater, the Cowboys were hoping the weather wouldn’t slow down one of the hottest teams in the conference. Meantime, Cincinnati came into the game still in search of their first win in the Big 12.
On Saturday, it was the Cowboys jumping out to a lead, stalling out and taking a 10-7 lead into the half, but then exploding in the second half with a 21-point third quarter to roll Cincinnati 45-13. Here are three thoughts on the game.
You Can’t Stop Ollie Gordon
By his standards of late, Ollie Gordon had a fairly quiet first half for Oklahoma State, with “just” 60 rushing yards on 13 carries. But then he exploded for 92 rushing yards in his first four carries of the second half. Gordon finished with 25 carries for 271 yards, including 211 in the second half, as Oklahoma State rolled Cincinnati at home 45-13.
Gordon continues to be not just the best offensive player in the Big 12 the last month of the season, but the best, and most valuable, overall player in the conference since league play began. In conference play, Ollie Gordon is averaging 195.2 rushing yards per game. He’s the Big 12’s leading rusher and has been the leading reason Oklahoma State is now part of this five-way tie atop the Big 12 standings heading into the final month of the season.
Leon Johnson Emerges
Leon Johnson III had his coming out party for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. According to the broadcast on ESPN2, the Pokes were considering redshirting Johnson for the rest of the season, giving him one more year in eligibility, but after his performance on Saturday night, can the Cowboys really afford to do that given they’re in a five-way tie for first place?
His only blemish was a wide-open drop early in the fourth quarter, but otherwise, he finished with five catches for 149 yards. These were his first catches of the season, despite seeing action in three other games this season.
Johnson is a former Division III All-American, who played at George Fox University in Oregon last season and totaled 55 receptions for 1,156 yards and 14 touchdowns. At 6’5”, he’s a big body, downfield target that Alan Bowman could use to spread out this offense, as he did effectively on Saturday.
Cincinnati Has a QB Problem
Emory Jones continues to struggle mightily in Big 12 play. And on Saturday, it was more of the same as he went 6/16 for 117 yards and an interception. While the weather wasn’t conducive to a high-flying passing attack, this was a trend that has continued throughout conference play for Jones.
So on Saturday night, Scott Satterfield turned to sophomore Brady Lichtenberg, who did lead Cincinnati to a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, their first points since the first quarter. Lichtenberg threw a pretty touchdown pass across his body to Aaron Turner on a 21-yard strike.
But it’s pretty clear that Cincinnati doesn’t have the quarterback play it needs right now to compete in the top half of the Big 12. Until they find that player, it’s going to be tough sledding for this team. However, the good news is they welcome in UCF in Week 10, who is also winless in the Big 12 so far this season.