Oklahoma makes playoff statement on behalf of Big 12

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If Oklahoma had anything to say about it Saturday night in Stillwater, the Big 12 is not in danger of missing out on the College Football Playoff this year. The No. 3 Sooners (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) locked up the outright Big 12 championship with a 58-23 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) to close out regular season play. The ball is now in the playoff selection committee’s court. There is no way Oklahoma should not be in the top four when the final playoff rankings are updated after next weekend’s conference championship games.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 17 of 25 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns, but the Sooners offense was a two-man show between running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. The two each rushed for over 130 yards (136 yards for Mixon, 131 for Perine) and each scored two rushing touchdowns. Mayfield also got involved running the football, taking off for 77 yards and a touchdown of his own. Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh got the start at quarterback with Mason Rudolph banged up. Walsh passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns, but that was mostly while the Cowboys were attempting to catch up in the second half.

Oklahoma finished its season with the three best consecutive wins any College Football Playoff contender or participant likely will have played with wins over ranked opponents Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. Two of those wins were on the road too. The Big 12’s back loaded scheduled needed one team to rise up and prove worthy of playoff hype, and Oklahoma turned out to be that team. Throw in a nice road win earlier in the season at Tennessee, and Oklahoma’s overall body of work is solid, perhaps even more so than that of Alabama’s. Michigan State could prove to be a different argument, as the Spartans could have road wins at Michigan and Ohio State to go with a win against Oregon and an undefeated Iowa if Michigan State wins the Big Ten Championship Game next week.

Oklahoma’s fate as the Big 12’s playoff hope was further cemented with Notre Dame falling out of the running with a close loss at Stanford. It is not likely Oklahoma would be at risk of dropping behind Stanford as a two-loss Pac-12 champion. Oklahoma would have the edge, even if Stanford blasted USC 59-0 next week in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Sooners will be a solid lock for one of the top four spots in the playoff, and may have a chance to wiggle up the rankings while not playing a game. Whatever the case, the Big 12 will be sending its one true champion to the playoff fun, once again showing the conference is not in need of expansion or a conference championship game. Some years it will work out, some years it will not. Such will be life in the Big 12.

Oklahoma will be fine with that.

Big plays for Oklahoma leading to Bedlam Beatdown in Stillwater

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Big plays have been the key to a big first half for No. 3 Oklahoma in Stillwater. A 59-yard kickoff return to the Oklahoma State four-yard line set up Oklahoma’s first touchdown of a wild first half, and running backs Samaje Perine (68 yards) and Joe Mixon (66 yards) have ripped off long touchdown runs against No. 11 Oklahoma State and the Sooners hold a 44-20 lead on their in-state rivals at halftime.

Oklahoma’s first three touchdown drives all needed four plays or fewer, but the Sooners also showed it could work a drive and finish it off with a score as well. The Sooners put together a 12-play drive spanning 80 yards, with Baker Mayfield capping things off with a five-yard touchdown pass to Dimitri Flowers. Mayfield connected earlier with Sterling Shepard. Oklahoma State’s lone touchdown of the half came on a J.W. Walsh touchdown pass to Jhajuan Seales from 26 yards out. Walsh got the start instead of an injured Mason Rudolph. Rudolph sprained his ankle, but he did enter the game late in the first half as the Cowboys attempted to spark the passing game. Walsh was 13-of-19 for 133 yards and a touchdown before Rudolph entered the game. It did not go so well, as Rudolph was picked off by Jordan Thomas, who returned the interception 32 yards for a touchdown, giving Oklahoma a commanding 35-10 lead.

Just how bad of a half was this for Oklahoma State? It turns out it was the worst first half in over a decade.

Whichever team wins this game will be awarded the Big 12 championship. That was made clear when Baylor was upset by TCU last night in soggy Fort Worth, Texas. For Oklahoma, a win also likely secures a spot in the College Football Playoff despite being off next week. Oklahoma State may need a few more bounces to go their way given the most recent standings, but it would certainly be within reach if the Cowboys can beattle back to grab the win. Stopping Oklahoma’s offense to makr that happen may not be easy though given how the firts half played out.

Baylor leads Oklahoma State at the half; Stidham playing through ankle injury

Associated Press
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No. 10 Baylor leads No. 6 Oklahoma State 24-14 at the half in Stillwater, but Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham sustained an ankle injury that left him with a noticeable limp and limited mobility toward the end of the half.

Baylor came out of the locker room the only way it knows how: gunning. The Bears scored 56 seconds into the game after Stidham hit Corey Coleman for 48 yards on the first play from scrimmage and Shock Linwood carried for six, five and five yards, the final going for a touchdown.

After a three-and-out, Baylor slashed 77 yards in five plays, the final a 59-yard strike to K.D. Cannon, giving the Bears a 14-0 lead just three minutes and four seconds into the game. Baylor scored only 17 points over the entire game during their disastrous trip to Stillwater in 2013.

But where Baylor struck, Oklahoma State struck back.

J.W. Walsh hit Jalen McClesky for a three-yard touchdown to get on the board and, after a turnover on downs inside OSU territory, tied the game two plays later on a 39-yard rainbow from Mason Rudolph to James Washington. Less than nine minutes in, each team had 14 points.

Baylor regained the lead on a 13-play, 83-yard drive capped by a one-yard Devin Chaffin run, then nudged their advantage back to double digits with a 34-yard Chris Callahan field goal at the 3:25 mark of the second quarter.

The Bears threatened to take control of the game after taking over at their own 42 with 2:09 remaining before the break but Stidham, who came into the night with a bad back and dinged his ankle during the first half, was sacked and stripped by Emmanuel Ogbah at the Cowboys’ 35. Oklahoma State could not capitalize on the opportunity, but managed to stop Baylor from extending the lead.

Stidham completed 12-of-21 passes for 258 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the half while rushing seven times for 36 yards. His mobility, obviously, will be a major story line in the second half.

Rudolph hit 13-of-19 throws for 195 yards and a score, but the Cowboys have been out-rushed 180 to minus-10.

This marks the fifth time this season Oklahoma State has trailed at halftime. They have come back to win the previous four.

Oklahoma State will receive to open the second half.

Oklahoma Statement: No. 14 Pokes thrash No. 8 TCU

Associated Press
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Who among us woke up this morning skeptical of Oklahoma State’s place among the Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff contenders? (Raises both hands and feet.) The Cowboys entered Saturday’s date with No. 8 TCU at the back of the line in the Big 12 and nationally, and with good reason: they needed significant help from the zebras to beat Texas and Kansas State, and needed overtime to dispatch a West Virginia team Baylor, Oklahoma and these Frogs crushed.

But Oklahoma State won those games, and Saturday they won another that announced themselves as serious contenders for the Big 12 championship and beyond. The 14th-ranked Cowboys jumped on the favored Frogs and never let up, stomping their way to a dominant 49-29 win.

Though Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson garnered most of the hype entering the game, it was the connection between Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and James Washington that proved unstoppable. Rudolph opened the scoring four minutes in with a 48-yard connection to Washington and, after a one-yard Boykin touchdown run, encored with a 50-yard score two plays later to push the Pokes’ lead to 14-6 with 6:02 remaining in the first quarter.

After a Jaden Oberkrom field goal pulled the Frogs within 14-9 to close the first quarter, Rudolph again tossed a pair of scoring strikes to give Oklahoma State complete control of the game. The first came on a 12-yard catch-and-dash to Jeff Carr with 13:37 to go before the half, and the second was an 82-yard bomb to Marcell Ateman with 7:57 remaining in the frame.

At the time of the Ateman touchdown, Rudolph had completed 9-of-13 throws for 231 yards and four touchdowns. But he didn’t stop there. Rudolph effectively closed his day – and the game – with another long distance gift to Washington, this time from 74 yards out to give the Cowboys a 42-16 lead with 8:07 remaining in the third quarter. The sophomore finished with 352 yards and five touchdowns (with no interceptions) on 16-of-24 passing, while Washington corralled five of those throws for 184 yards and three scores.

Thanks to a ball-hawking defense and a quick strike offense, Oklahoma State’s six touchdown drives covered a total of 332 yards and needed only 16 snaps to do so.

Boykin racked up his customary numbers (445 passing yards, 73 rushing, three total touchdowns), but he was just as much a help as a hindrance to the Frogs’ efforts. He tossed four interceptions on the day: the first led to Oklahoma State’s first touchdown, Chad Whitener returned the second to the 1-yard line (setting up a one-yard J.W. Walsh run), and Whitener finished the job on Boykin’s fourth pick, slamming the door with a pick six with just 44 seconds remaining. Boykin also saw two scoring chances end on failed fourth down conversions deep in Cowboy territory; the first on an incomplete pass to Kolby Listenbee from the OSU 14 with the score 21-9 in the second quarter, the second on a rush for no gain from the OSU 1 that ended any realistic comeback chance with 5:21 remaining.

Worst of all for TCU, Doctson (six grabs for 64 yards) left the game after injuring his left wrist securing a 12-yard reception late in the second quarter and did not return.

And that leads to the larger theme of the game: Oklahoma State (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) and TCU (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) effectively switched places in the Big 12’s round-robin title race. The Cowboys – this ferocious Cowboys team – jumps to the front of the line of contenders thanks to a schedule that sees Baylor visit Stillwater on Nov. 21 and Oklahoma follow a week after.

TCU will lick its wounds against Kansas next week in Fort Worth before again crossing the Red River to face Oklahoma on Nov. 21 before hosting Baylor six days later.

 

Big 12 barn burner keeps No. 12 Oklahoma State in title mix

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Look out Baylor and TCU, because No. 12 Oklahoma State (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) might just have an offense that can keep pace and shock you. The Cowboys outlasted Texas Tech (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) in a wild shootout in Lubbock, leaving town with a 70-53 victory.

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington had quite the monster performance, catching four passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. With over 1,200 yard of offense between these two Big 12 programs, Washington was not alone in having a big game in the box score.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph had himself a 285-yard performance. Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes had 480 yards and four touchdowns, but two interceptions. The second interception came in the final minute of the game, with Oklahoma State’s Ramon Richards returning it 59 yards for a touchdown to pad the final score. Red Raider receiver Jakeem Grant had 179 receiving yards and 146 kick return yards, including a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Four different players attempted a pass for Oklahoma State, with J.W. Walsh, Austin Hays and Chris Carson each getting a chance to move the ball through the air.

Oklahoma State now prepares for a brutal backend to the Big 12 schedule with a home game against TCU next week. The Horned Frogs get a couple of extra days to prepare for the game after knocking off West Virginia on Thursday night. Following the home game against the Frogs, Oklahoma State visits Iowa State and then hosts Baylor and Oklahoma to close out the 2015 regular season. The Cowboys have a difficult road, but the path is still pretty clear to a Big 12 title if they can score some wild wins down the stretch.

Texas Tech’s final games are the polar opposite it would seem, at least compared to Oklahoma State’s schedule. The hardest games are likely behind for the Red Raiders. All that remains for Texas Tech are a road game at West Virginia, a home game with Kansas State and a season-ending road game in Austin against the Texas Longhorns. Texas Tech could be looking at a huge end to the season, even if a Big 12 title is out of reach.