By Jason Elmquist, CNHI News Service
AUSTIN, Texas —
One down. Two to go.
Oklahoma State, needing to win out in order to win its second Big 12 Conference championship in three years, took care of business in its final road game of the season with a 38-13 manhandling of Texas.
The Cowboys delivered Texas its first conference loss of the season and won for the third time in Austin — becoming the first team since Colorado to win three consecutive games at Texas’ Darrell K, Royal Memorial Stadium and just the third team to ever beat the Longhorns in three straight trips to Austin.
“They have some of the best athletes in the country, so to be able to come in here, against a hostile environment, and come out with a win is huge,’’ OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey said.
Momentum shifted — drastically — in just a matter of minutes right before halftime to propel the Pokes throughout the remainder of the game.
With Texas cutting OSU’s lead to four with less than four minutes left in the first half, the Cowboys jumped on the Longhorns for two more scores — with some help from the defense.
The Cowboys surgically moved the ball down the field 67 yards on six plays and ate up two minutes of clock before Enid’s Clint Chelf connected with Tracy Moore from 12 yards out — on a pass that was tipped by the defender guarding Moore, but he still managed to snag it before going out of bounds.
“It wasn’t a difficult catch at all, he slowed the ball down for me,’’ Moore joked. “He made it easy. It would have been tough if I would have just tried to catch it or tried to knock it down like I should have done.’’
With the Longhorns facing some pressure with the OSU touchdown, Texas attempted to put together a quick-scoring drive before the break. Instead, the Cowboys scored again.
Justin Gilbert returned his fifth interception of the season 42 yards for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Gilbert hauled in his sixth interception late in the third.
“Gilbert’s interception was huge. It just turned the tide so fast,’’ OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. “Our players have been opportunistic. I think it’s because of their tighter coverage and we’re more athletic on defense than we’ve ever been and we’re deeper than we ever have been so we can keep our guys fresh and let them run to the ball more.’’
The Cowboys had gotten out to an early 14-3 lead on the legs of Chelf, who finished with a game-high 95 yards rushing. Utilizing the draw in the opening drives of the game, the senior quarterback scored on runs of 18 and 4 yards to give OSU the advantage.
Texas came out in the second half with a game plan to slow OSU’s running attack, which forced the Cowboys to return to the air. So Chelf kept pace by completing 16 of 22 for 197 yards — and hooked up with Charlie Moore late in the third for the game’s final score.
Since the Gundy switched Chelf back into the starting quarterback role for the Cowboys, OSU has averaged 47.5 points.
Possibly OSU’s biggest battle of the year stands ahead, however. The Cowboys will return to Boone Pickens Stadium to close out the season against Baylor Saturday and Oklahoma Dec 7.
“We’re going to enjoy this win, but we know we need to start preparing for the next team and that next team just happens to be Baylor,’’ said Lavey, who had an interception in the victory.
Baylor jumped past Ohio State to No. 3 in the AP rankings after beating Texas Tech 63-34 Saturday. OSU moved up a spot to No. 11.
“This is a special team and I knew it from the get-go. We like these games,” quarterback Bryce Petty said. “It’s these kinds of games that you want to fight with your brothers and win together.”
The Bears were playing without Big 12 rushing leader Lache Seastrunk, second-string running back Glasco Martin and 103-yard-a-game receiver Tevin Reese. They have accounted for a combined 24 touchdowns.
“I like how calmly you mentioned their names,” Briles said when asked about the missing trio. “To us they’re not guys. I mean, they’re dynamic teammates. ... With them not being there, I think we are growing as a team from an offensive standpoint. The thing that’s helping us is we’re playing really good defense, which allows us to figure out how to use the people that are going to have to try to compensate for those guys not being there.”
That matches Baylor’s highest ranking ever. After a 6-0 start in 1953, Baylor was third in the AP poll for a two-week stretch before losing three of its last four games.
OSU moved up one spot to No. 11. Oklahoma remained at No. 22 after a 48-10 win over Iowa State.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.