Justice Hill

Alamo Bowl blowout sees No. 12 Oklahoma State dominate No. 10 Colorado

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The Alamo Bowl saw a 31-point lead evaporate last season, but there would be no meltdown this year. No. 12 Oklahoma State (10-3) steamrolled No. 10 Colorado in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, 38-8.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns and caught a 24-yard pass from Chris Carson, and James Washington was on the receiving end of 171 yards and one touchdown from Rudolph. For a good stretch, Washington equaled Colorado’s total offensive production in the game in the second half. Colorado was just unable to get anything going on offense, with an injury to Sefo Liufau keeping the Buffs QB out of the mix for a stretch. Colorado did manage to avoid a shutout with a fourth quarter touchdown and two-point conversion. Phillip Lindsay ran for a six-yard score and Liufau completed a pass to Lindsay for a two-point conversion. At that point, however, it was more about pride than anything else, because Oklahoma State had the game all but locked down.

Cowboys running back Justice Hill hit the century mark with a late 37-yard touchdown run up the middle of the Colorado defense. Oklahoma State ended the night with over 500 yards of offense and zero turnovers.

Oklahoma State held a 31-0 lead until 5:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, preventing the Cowboys from recording their first shutout victory over a ranked opponent since 1958. The last time Oklahoma State pitched a shutout in a postseason bowl game was in the 1944 Cotton Bowl, against TCU. Oklahoma State beat their future conference foes, 34-0.

Looking Ahead

Oklahoma State will have plenty of reason to feel confident about what they can do in the Big 12 next season with Mason Rudolph and James Washington saying they will be back for one more season in Stillwater. Barring any changes on that front, the Cowboys will have one of the most potent combos in the Big 12, which is really all you need sometimes in the conference, right? Oklahoma State and Oklahoma look to be situated well to be heavy preseason favorites in Big 12 play, and each could start the year in the top 10 of the preseason polls (which are even more meaningless than the bowl games). The 2017 season begins with a Group of Five team to watch in 2017, Tulsa. The Cowboys host Tulsa on Sept. 2, 2017 in Stillwater before playing back-to-back road games at South Alabama and Pittsburgh. Big 12 play opens with a home game against TCU on Sept. 23, 2017.

What will we make of Colorado? The Buffs have a hire to make at defensive coordinator (Bob Diaco would be a good addition), and Sefo Liufau will be moving on. The Buffs will certainly have a bit of a new look next season, but the big question is how much can this program rebound in the offseason after seeing an otherwise dream season end with the thud it did in postseason play (Pac-12 championship game and Alamo Bowl)? That is not easy to predict, but the bar has been raised for Colorado and there is a renewed sense of optimism for the program to utilize to its advantage. The 2017 season opens in Denver against Colorado State and two home games against Texas State and Northern Colorado. Getting into Pac-12 play with a winning record is certainly to be expected, and anything less than a 3-0 mark should be considered a disappointment. Colorado will also get home game sin conference play against both USC and Washington, which could be interesting if Colorado continues to improve rather than take too many steps back.

No. 11 Oklahoma State keeps Big 12 title hopes in sight with win at TCU

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For as much talk as there has been about Oklahoma and even West Virginia when it comes to the Big 12 championship race, it seems No. 11 Oklahoma State has been flying under the radar. That should not be the case after the Cowboys (9-2, 7-1) picked up yet another win in conference play to set themselves up for a chance to clinch the Big 12 title in two weeks. Oklahoma State’s 31-6 victory on the road against TCU (5-5, 304 Big 12) in Fort Worth also keeps Oklahoma state on the radar for a shot at the College Football Playoff.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph passed for 207 yards and a touchdown and picked up two rushing touchdowns, while two running backs (Chris Carson and Justice Hill) went for more than 100 yards on the ground to power the offense by TCU. The defense also frustrated TCU quarterback Kenny Hill with a pair of interceptions, and Hill was little more than a minor threat with his dual-abilities.

Yes, it’s true. The Cowboys do have a slight sliver of hope to reach the College Football Playoff. Considering both the MAC and Big 12 previously basically confirmed Oklahoma State’s loss to Central Michigan never should have happened, Oklahoma State could hope the selection committee gives them a pass for one blemish on their schedule. Oklahoma State may still need some help elsewhere to move up high enough in the next two weeks, but they should very much be in the discussion for the committee moving forward, if they knock off Oklahoma in two weeks.

That will be Oklahoma State’s next game. After a bye week next week, Oklahoma State travels to Norman to play the rival Sooners on December 3. Oklahoma State won the last time they visited Memorial Stadium, with a 38-35 thriller two seasons ago.

TCU still has two games to play, including a road game at Texas on Black Friday next week. TCU will have two games to try and meet the six-win minimum for bowl eligibility.

Oklahoma State tops No. 22 Texas in Stillwater for first time since 1997

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Oklahoma State (3-2, 101 Big 12) had the look of a Big 12 contender Saturday afternoon against No. 22 Texas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12). It also looked like Texas still has a long way to go to play up to the level Charlie Strong would prefer in Austin. Oklahoma State and Texas played  a wild second half with four lead exchanges, but it was the Cowboys who took control of the Big 12 contest in the second half en route to a 49-31 victory.

Mason Rudolph passed for 392 yards and three touchdowns without an interception for Oklahoma State. Jalen McCleskey was on the receiving end for 109 of those yards and two of the touchdowns and Justice Hill led the Oklahoma State ground game with 137 yards and a touchdown. Barry Sanders Jr. also contributed a touchdown on the ground. As a team, Oklahoma State rolled up 557 yards of offense and converted seven of 15 third down plays against Texas. The Longhorns have looked shabby on defense this season, and this was just the latest example of how far off Strong’s defense is from where he would like to see it.

Oklahoma State’s defense gave up some big plays and yards as well. Texas actually out-gained Oklahoma State with 568 yards, including an astounding 329 on the ground. But the Longhorns had the one turnover of the game and could not find a way to stop Oklahoma State every time it looked as though Texas could seize momentum.

Texas running back D'Onta Foreman was forced to leave the game with an injury in the third quarter. He went down without contact after taking a handoff, clutching his right rib and going down voluntarily before being touched by an Oklahoma State defender. Before his awkward exit, Foreman had rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Oklahoma State’s James Washington was also knocked out of the game following a big hit, but Gundy said after the game he expects Washington will be available next week.

This was Oklahoma State’s first home win against Texas since 1997. The Longhorns had won eight straight meetings in Stillwater. All but one of those wins had come by a double-digit margin. Oklahoma State will look to keep the good vibes going next week with another home game. This time, Iowa State comes to town after suffering a gut-wrenching loss at home this afternoon against Baylor. Iowa State blew a 14-point lead and lost on a game-winning field goal by the Bears.

It will not get easier next week for Texas as the Red River Shootout Rivalry gets fired up in Cotton Bowl Stadium next week at the state fair in Dallas. Texas shocked Oklahoma last year, seemingly boosting Strong’s job security at least a little bit. Will he need some magic once again this season to defeat the Sooners?

Oklahoma State blocks three Texas PATs in defense-optional first half

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The early slate of games has been highlighted by blocked extra-point attempts. Three of them have come in Stillwater, Oklahoma with Oklahoma State doing the job against Texas. One of those blocked attempts was returned by Oklahoma State for two points. Oklahoma State holds the halftime edge with a 37-25 lead following a back-and-forth second quarter that saw four lead changes in the second quarter. Yep. That’s the halftime score.

Oklahoma State jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Longhorns, with Justice Hill running for a 30-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game and Mason Rudolph connecting for a 54-yard touchdown pass to James Washington. Texas would settle down though and come back in the first quarter with two straight possessions with touchdowns. Tyrone Swoopes capped a six-play, 84-yard drive with a short touchdown run. One play earlier, Shane Buechele completed a 49-yard pass to Dorian Leonard.

It looked as though Texas was about to tie things up on their next possession (after an Oklahoma State three-and-out) when D'Onta Foreman ran 22 yards for a score, but special teams would help Oklahoma State keep the lead. Tre Flowers wound up returning a blocked PAT attempt to the house off a lateral for two additional points for the Cowboys.

The Longhorns did take a lead in the second quarter with a Swoopes touchdown run inside the red zone, and the lead exchanged hands twice more before the end of the first half. Rudolph capped an 80-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to regain the lead, 23-19, but Buchele launched a 42-yard pass to Beck for a 42-yard score on the ensuing possession. Four plays later on the ensuing possession, Oklahoma State was back on top with a Rudolph touchdown pass to Jalen McCleskey from 36 yards.

We could have a wild one in Stillwater in the second half.