For one quarter of football it was obvious it had been six weeks since Wes Lunt had taken a meaningful snap.
But the Cowboy defense held strong, Quinn Sharp carried the early scoring load and eventually Lunt found a rhythm as Oklahoma State earned arguably its most impressive victory of the season, handling TCU 36-14 in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon.
The Cowboy offense was stagnant in the early stages, lowlighted by an 11-yard interception return for a touchdown by TCU's Elisha Olabode to give the Frogs an early 7-0 lead. Then TCU upped its lead to 14-0 with 3:22 remaining in the first quarter on an 18-yard touchdown connection between quarterback Trevone Boykin and LaDarius Brown to cap a six-play, 83-yard drive.
The Pokes appeared to have their backs against the wall but that was far from the case.
The Cowboy offense got rolling but failed to find the end zone in the first half, instead relying on three of Quinn Sharp's five field goals on the day to trail 14-9 at the break.
Then OSU came out in the third quarter and took its first lead of the game on a one-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Smith at the 7:29 mark for a 16-14 lead.
The Pokes built on that advantage later in the quarter when Lunt found a streaking Charlie Moore for a 20-yard touchdown strike.
Sharp continued to put distance on the Horned Frogs with two more fourth-quarter field goals of 32 and 27 yards, respectively, before Joseph Randle put the finishing touch on a dominant second half with a one-yard TD burst with 1:22 remaining in the contest. Randle's touchdown run was set up by a 43-yard interception return by OSU safety Daytawion Lowe down to the one-yard line.
Lunt struggled early in the game, completing just 7-of-16 passes in the first half for 133 yards and the pick returned for a score. But thanks in large part to a stifling performance for Oklahoma State's defense and a workman-like 126 rushing yards from Randle, Lunt settled down and completed 11-of-17 passes for 191 yards and a score in the second half.
The Cowboy defense put together its third-consecutive solid performance, limiting a TCU offense that came into Saturday averaging 36 points per game to just one offensive score and no points the final three quarters. OSU also got back to its turnover-forcing ways by creating three turnovers, two of which led to Cowboy scores.
OSU outgained the Frogs 471-344 in total offense despite the early offensive struggles. OSU forced TCU into seven three-and-outs,2-of-14 on third downs and 1-for-3 in red zone opportunities, on top of the season-best three forced turnovers.
For the offense, Moore's 20-yard touchdown reception marked his third straight game with a TD of 20 yards or longer.
Randle became the first back this season to run for more than 100 yards against TCU and receiver Josh Stewart caught six passes for a career-high 120 yards.
Junior receiver Blake Jackson also chipped in three catches for 94 yards.
Oklahoma State improved to 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in Big 12 play, while TCU fell to 5-3 and 2-3 in the conference.
The Cowboys travel to take on No. 3 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., next Saturday in a battle for first place in the Big 12.