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Wrecking Tech: Cowboys Win Fifth Straight Against Raiders

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Kliff Kingsbury said he wanted things to "get weird" on Saturday in Lubbock, but there was nothing strange about the result at Jones AT&T Stadium given the recent history of this series.

The first-year Texas Tech coach implored the student section this week to get a little crazy and played up the No. 15 Red Raiders' recent blowout losses to Oklahoma State as motivation for his team, but the No. 18 Cowboys responded by turning in their best performance of the season for a 52-34 victory to win their fifth-straight in the series and become the first school in Big 12 history to win three-straight in Lubbock.

Oklahoma State did a little bit of everything to earn its convincing upset victory, forcing three turnovers, converting a flea flicker, blocking a punt, banking in a field goal off the post, grinding it out in the run game and getting a season-best outing from Clint Chelf to move to 7-1 on the season and 4-1 in conference play.

"I really like how our guys play, I like their chemistry," coach Mike Gundy said. "I thought it was a really good effort; a good win for our team. We've got a lot of work ahead of us but we're starting to get a little bit better."

And a ‘little bit' better might be an understatement. The Cowboys have had their offense, particularly in the run game, rolling the past two weeks en route to 110 points against Iowa State and Tech as the defense has continued to hold its own in the process, putting the Pokes firmly back in the conference title discussion.

Oklahoma State struck first with three touchdowns in a three-minute span in the opening quarter to take a 21-0 lead. Tracy Moore got the scoring started on a beautiful 6-yard fade from Chelf in the right corner of the end zone before Desmond Roland bowled his way in for a pair of 1-yard scoring dives to take a three-touchdown lead.

But Tech didn't go away quietly, answering with a field goal before the end of the quarter and a 38-yard TD strike from Davis Webb to Eric Ward just 11 seconds into the second quarter to pull within 21-10.

The Cowboys responded with an impressive 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown catch by Jeremy Seaton on a fourth down play-action pass to reclaim an 18-point advantage but then things got interesting before halftime.

After an interception from Shaun Lewis gave the Pokes the ball and a chance to extend its lead, Chelf threw a pick of his own on the ensuing play, resulting in a 21-yard pick-6 for Tech's Pete Robertson. On the Raiders' next drive, they marched 63 yards in just five plays to cut the OSU lead to 28-24 and claimed all the momentum heading into the locker room.

But then things did get weird in the third quarter, just not in the way Kingsbury would have hoped.

Instead of giving in to the hyped crowd, the Pokes came out with authority, dominating on both sides of the ball to outscore Tech 21-7 in the quarter. The highlight play of the period was a 67-yard touchdown scamper on a designed draw on third-and-long by Clint Chelf that put the Cowboys up 42-24 and seemed to suck the life out of once-rowdy stadium.

After Tech responded with a score of its own on a 1-yard pass to Jace Amaro, who had his way with OSU with 15 catches for 174 yards, the Pokes countered their jab a haymaker of their own. Oklahoma utilized a run-heavy nine-play, 75-yard drive capped by a second rushing touchdown from Chelf to virtually put the game away in most people's minds with 1:44 left in the third.

The teams exchanged few blows in the fourth, as OSU played the clock-management game and Tech's late rally attempts fell flat.

For the second-straight week, the Cowboys' run game made all the difference.

Yes, the defense forced three turnovers and held the Raiders nearly a touchdown below its season scoring average. And yes, Chelf had his best passing performance of the season with 211 yards on 18-of-34 passing with a pair of TDs and a matching set of picks. And not to forget the special teams, which played a big factor, blocking a punt, Ben Grogan making his lone field goal try and Josh Stewart having a 46-yard punt return to set up a score.

But what has taken OSU to a different level in performance has been the emergence of a reliable rushing attack.

Roland didn't bust out a second-straight 200-yard game, but he was sturdy and physical in an effective north-and-south attack, rushing for 96 yards with zero attempts going for negative yards. He also tacked on three touchdowns, giving him seven now in back-to-back weeks as the new starter.

But he wasn't the only one to contribute.

Clint Chelf doesn't get the publicity that J.W. Walsh does as a runner but he was more than good enough, rushing for 88 yards and two scores on a whopping 14.7 yards per carry. Freshman Rennie Childs entered the mix in the second half, gashing the Tech defense for 70 yards on just nine attempts for a 7.8 average. And lastly, Jeremy Smith looked solid once again in a backup role with 28 yards on five carries and a reception out of the backfield for 17 yards.

It was a group effort on the ground and one that wore down the Red Raider defense, opening up options all over the field for the Cowboys.

Overall, Tech (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) outgained OSU 549-492 in total yards and had 35 first downs to the Cowboys' 24. But the Raiders' tendency to turn the ball over struck again with three costly turnovers and three more fumbles that they recovered but severely damaged drives.

Oklahoma State's defense also stiffened when it needed to, allowing Tech to convert with just two touchdowns on seven trips to the red zone, while the Cowboys scored TDs on all six of their visits inside the 20.

The Pokes are back in action next Saturday when they return to Boone Pickens Stadium for the first time since Oct. 19 to host the lowly Kansas Jayhawks (2-6, 0-5) at 3 p.m.

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