There’s winning ugly, then there’s winning grotesquely. Oklahoma State did the latter on Saturday in Austin.
In a game that saw four turnovers, a botched punt and 168 penalty yards, the Cowboys emerged from the slop to beat the Texas Longhorns 30-27 and win their fourth straight game at Darrell K Royal Stadium.
Things actually started beautifully for Oklahoma State. After forcing a Texas three-and-out on the Horns’ opening possession, OSU marched 69 yards on nine plays and broke things open when quarterback Mason Rudolph found Brandon Sheperd for a 17-yard score.
Texas answered with a field goal, but OSU came storming right back. From the Texas 39, Rudolph found Jhajuan Seales for a 31-yard pickup to the UT four yard line. OSU punched it in on the next play with its J.W. Walsh package. Walsh kept it right up the middle and gave the Pokes a 14-3 lead.
But for the rest of the half, Texas looked like the Texas of old.
After another UT field goal, Rudolph made a critical mistake. As he was attempting to throw, the ball slipped out of his hand, and Texas’ Hassan Ridgeway rumbled 34 yards to the house. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Ridgeway brought the Horns within one at 14-13.
OSU caught a big break on its next drive. On third down from the Texas 35, Rudolph threw up a duck and had it picked, but OSU kept the ball thanks to a controversial call. The officials called roughing the passer on Texas’ Paul Boyette Jr. despite minimal contact.
The Cowboys cashed in on that opportunity with a 34-yard Ben Grogan field goal to go up 17-13. But back came Texas…
Despite starting at their own three, the Horns stampeded 97 yards on 11 plays to take their first lead of the game. Like OSU did with Walsh, Texas inserted backup QB Tyrone Swoops for a special package and it paid off. On fourth-and-two from the OSU seven, Swoops took off for a 7-yard score and Texas took a 20-17 lead into the locker room.
OSU answered back early in the third when Walsh came back in on a short-yardage package. Walsh hit Jeremy Seaton from a yard out to put the Pokes back in front, 24-20.
It wouldn’t be long, however, until the sloppiness returned. Late in the third, Rudolph whipped a pass out to the right and Holton Hill read it like a book. Hill snagged it out of midair and cruised 41 yards to the end zone to put UT up 27-24.
The rest of the game was a clinic in how not to play football, mostly instructed by the Longhorns. The OSU offense completely stalled, so badly in fact that OSU coach Mike Gundy began to rotate Rudolph and Walsh as he looked for a spark. Texas’ offense simultaneously sputtered. And when the Horns did do something right, another penalty brought it back (UT collected 16 penalties for 128 yards on the day).
OSU moved into position to tie things up with just minutes remaining, and Grogan came through. Grogan drilled a 41-yarder to tie things up, right after he made a 36-yarder that was erased due to a delay of game call.
This put Texas into position for one final blunder.
After a conservative series of downs, Texas lined up to punt with less than a minute to play. But instead of flipping the field and going to overtime, UT punter Michael Dickson saw the snap go right through his hands, off of his facemask, and on to the field. Dickson managed to scoop it up and try a sideways punt, but it sailed out for a loss of six yards.
For the second straight week, a supposedly simple task in the kicking game failed the Horns at the most inopportune time.
Grogan lined up for the win, and with ice in his veins, drilled a 40-yarder with just six seconds left to lift the Cowboys to a dramatic win.
The win moves OSU to 4-0 and 1-0 in the Big 12. Texas is now 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the league.
Rudolph threw for 290 yards with the one score and two picks. Walsh ran for one score and threw for another, but once again, the Cowboys’ run game struggled. Rennie Childs led the way with 54 yards on 21 carries, while Chris Carson ran for 39 yards before leaving with an injury. OSU ran for just 103 yards on 46 carries, an average of just 2.2.
The Pokes outgained Texas by more than a hundred yards and converted 27 first downs to Texas’ 11. OSU also succeeded on 9-of-17 on third down and won the time-of-possession battle by nearly 10 minutes. It was the turnovers that kept this close, but at the end of the day, it counts just the same.
OSU is back in Stillwater next Saturday to face Kansas State. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.