Undefeated until Halloween night, the previously 6th ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys fell to the Texas Longhorns 41-34 in a Big 12 overtime thriller in Stillwater. Oklahoma State's tendencies to not be able to put together production on the offensive side of the ball for an entire game finally caught up to them as the Pokes defense just wasn't able to hold down the explosive Texas offense long enough.
However, the collapse of the defense isn't the story of the game, and neither is Spencer Sanders' second quality game since his return from a Week 1 high ankle sprain (400 yards, 4 TD).
What stood out to me was the horrendous play of the Oklahoma State offensive line, that turned out to be the major culprit of the ball game. The unit which featured three underclassmen in the starting lineup on Saturday surrendered five sacks and seven additional tackles for loss.
All this without regard to the numerous quarterback pressures applied by the Texas defense, a stat that isn't officially tallied in college football. This game in particular, the Cowboys were fortunate to have Sanders behind center because his mobility alone kept the OSU offense afloat, something backup quarterback (and recent Oklahoma State sweetheart) Shane Illingworth would not have been able to accomplish given the ineptitude of the offensive line.
Sanders wasn't the only Cowboy star affected by the debacle that was the front five of the offense. All-American running back Chuba Hubbard was limited to only 72 yards on 25 carries (2.9 yards per attempt) while his backup, redshirt senior L.D. Brown only amassed 33 on eight carries.
The line would further haunt the team when Sanders's game-tying touchdown pass to tight end Jelani Woods in overtime was rescinded because of two offensive linemen being too far downfield.
These self-inflicted wounds would make appearances throughout the game, whether it was Brennan Presley running the wrong route (resulting in an interception), or Sanders and Hubbard fumbling an exchange, the Cowboys could not get out of their own way on Saturday afternoon.
The lack of discipline reared its ugly head in the fourth quarter when the Cowboy defense committed a third down pass interference penalty and a fourth down roughing the punter penalty to twice extend the Longhorn drive that resulted in Texas taking a 34-31 lead on a Sam Ehlinger scoring pass to Cade Brewer. In totality, Oklahoma State would commit eight penalties for 70 yards. However, four of these infractions, only one of which was disputable, came in the fourth quarter and overtime, ostensibly costing the team the game.
With the loss on Halloween, Oklahoma State's chances of making the college football playoff have all but vaporized. The Cowboys have dropped to 14th in the latest Associated Press rankings, and their grip on the Big 12 has been loosened.
One of their challengers in the conference is next week's opponent, Kansas State, who started the season red hot (including a win over Oklahoma) but has struggled since losing starting quarterback Skylar Thompson to a season-ending core injury. The match-up in Manhattan will serve as a tune-up before the Cowboys travel to Norman on November 21 to take on the rival Sooners.