Gerald Goodridge, News9.com/NewsOn6.com
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- No. 7 Oklahoma State started the game slowly, managing just 185 total yards and being outscored 20-3 in the first half, but a dominant third quarter lifted the Cowboys to a 30-29 win over No. 8 Texas A&M Saturday to open Big 12 play.
Oklahoma State came out of the locker room at halftime firing, taking advantage of routes underneath and the Aggies inability to keep up with the offensive pace. On the tenth play of the Cowboys' opening drive, Brandon Weeden connected with Isaiah Anderson for a 28-yard strike to take the ball down to the 13-yard line.
Sophomore running back Jeremy Smith took care of the rest on the next play, scoring and closing the gap to 20-10.
The Cowboys forced a TAMU punt on the next possession and went back to the hurry-up offense that worked well on the first drive. Brandon Weeden completed seven of his nine pass attempts on the drive, capped off by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon, which was originally ruled incomplete but overturned via challenge, to cut the lead to just three points.
The Aggies took over and looked to regain some momentum as Ryan Tannehill completed a 33-yard pass to Kenric McNeal. However sophomore safety Daytawion Lowe made contact with the football on the tackle, forcing a fumble that Justin Gilbert recovered at the OSU 44-yard line.
Weeden went to work yet again, completing eight consecutive passes on the next drive, connecting with Tracy Moore in the back of the end zone on the eighth for a four-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 24-20, their first lead of the game.
Then Tannehill began to struggle for the Aggies, allowing the Cowboys to control the momentum of the game.
On his first pass attempt of the next drive, Broderick Brown picked off the senior quarterback at the TAMU 23-yard line. Oklahoma State had an apparent score, with Weeden connecting with Blackmon for a nine-yard pass, but Blackmon fumbled the ball into the end zone for a TAMU touchback.
However, Tannehill's second pass attempt on the next drive would result in his second interception of the game, this time it was Justin Gilbert, who returned the ball to the Texas A&M 34-yard line. Oklahoma State only managed to earn three points on the drive, going up 27-20.
The Oklahoma State defense came up with a stop on the next drive, putting the ball back in the hands of a hot Cowboys' offense. OSU strung together a long drive, milking more than five minutes off of the clock and finishing with an 18-yard field goal by Quinn Sharp to make it a 10-point advantage.
Texas A&M turned to its passing game on the next possession, trying to get their offense going after being shut out in the third quarter. Tannehill completed nine of his 11 pass attempts on the next possession, culminating in a four-yard strike to Jeff Fuller to close the gap to 30-27.
The Aggies defense forced a three-and-out, to keep their hopes alive, but Tannehill's second pass was tipped and intercepted by James Thomas to end the game.
On the final play of the game, Oklahoma State snapped the ball to Blackmon, who burned the final five seconds of time before running out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Weeden finished the game completing 47 of his 60 pass attempts for a school-record 437 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, his first game this season without a pick. Josh Cooper led the team in receiving with 123 yards on 11 receptions, with Blackmon two yards behind him with 121 and a touchdown.
Tannehill, after lighting up the Cowboys in the first half, finished the game with 309 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. TAMU running back Christine Michael finished the game with 62 yards on six carries, his first game this season not eclipsing the 100-yard mark.
Oklahoma State will now continue its Big 12 schedule Oct. 8 against the Kansas Jayhawks at T. Boone Pickens Stadium.