Oklahoma State fans filed into Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday in anticipation of a blowout victory against Louisiana-Lafayette that would put memories of last week's upset loss in Arizona to rest; then all the air got sucked out of Stillwater just three minutes into the game.
OSU freshman quarterback Wes Lunt hit the turf, writhing in obvious pain, after two Cajun defenders collided with his knee. Lunt was immediately declared out for the game and reserve quarterback J.W. Walsh entered against a ULL team that had gone 11-3 since a season-opening loss to the Cowboys last season.
Reason to fret? Hardly.
Much to the delight of Cowboy fans, Walsh not only filled in serviceably, he excelled as Oklahoma State obliterated the Cajuns 65-24.
OSU capped its opening drive with a 51-yard field goal by Quinn Sharp as the coaching staff tried to give Walsh a smooth transition into the game.
Walsh led the Cowboys to seven-consecutive scoring drives in the first half to build a healthy 44-0 lead going into halftime.
The Denton, Texas, native threw for 347 yards 21-of-30 passing and tied an OSU freshman record with four touchdown passes. He also rushed for 73 yards and another score as the Cowboys set a school record with 741 yards of total offense.
He hooked up early and often with his former Denton Guyer High School teammate Josh Stewart, who led the Cowboys with nine receptions for 104 yards, including touchdowns of 33 and 17 yards.
Walsh's first touchdown of the game came on a 52-yard connection with fullback Kye Staley on a misdirection play and Walsh made the most of his opportunities in leading the Cowboys back into the red zone on the next two drives, which were capped by Joseph Randle touchdown runs of 8 and 2 yards, respectively.
With OSU already leading 24-0, Walsh got things going with junior college transfer Blake Jackson who strung together huge back-to-back plays. Jackson took a Walsh slant pass for a 56-yard gain and followed that up on the next play with an acrobatic 20-yard touchdown reception.
After Stewart's first touchdown reception, OSU finished out the first half with back-to-back field goals from Sharp that spanned just 10 seconds of game clock after OSU recovered a Lafayette fumble two seconds before intermission.
Instead of getting shaken up and losing their composure like they did in Tucson just seven days ago, Oklahoma State didn't miss a beat in putting together a near perfect first. The OSU offense scored on all eight of its first-half possessions and the Cowboy defense held Lafayette scoreless, allowing just 105 total yards.
The Cajuns were able to get their offense moving in the second half as OSU's reserves started to enter the game but the first half made the statement for the Cowboys.
Unfortunately for OSU, when the reserves began to file in reserve corner Devin Hedgepeth crumpled to the turf with an ankle injury as Lafayette connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass. Hedgepeth ruptured his Achilles tendon against Texas A&M last season and was carted to the locker room with the same leg wrapped.
OSU scored on the next drive when Walsh scored on a designed four-yard QB run. OSU's final two touchdowns of the game came on Stewart's second touchdown reception from Walsh and a three-yard run from third-string running back Desmond Roland.
OSU entered the game ranked sixth nationally in rushing and continued its dominance on the ground with 330 yards. Randle led the Cowboys with 105 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Jeremy Smith added 59 yards on 12 carries and Roland finished with 56 yards on 13 totes. Walsh was OSU's second-leading rusher with 73 yards on six carries.
In addition to Stewart's big receiving day, Jackson had five catches for 112 yards and a score as 10 Cowboys collected at least one reception.
Lunt is reportedly out 2-3 weeks for with a dislocated knee. The Cowboys have a bye week before hosting the No. 14 Texas Longhorns on Sept. 29.