Oklahoma State Victory:
Late in the fourth quarter on Saturday night in Lubbock, Texas, the hopes and dreams of Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State’s season seemed to be dwindling. The Cowboys were up by 14 going into the fourth quarter and the game looked to be in hand. Then the improbable happened. The Red Raiders offense started clicking on all cylinders and tied the game at 34-34.
The Red Raiders had all of the momentum going in their direction after scoring 17 unanswered points. The game was locked and the fans had Jones AT&T Stadium rocking. The Cowboys mustered their strength and drove down to the two yard line of Texas Tech with only 5:30 remaining. They couldn’t punch it in and would have to settle for trying a chip shot field goal. This is where the wheels started to feel like they were going to fall off completely.
Kicker Matt Ammendola lined up for the go ahead kick. He did his typical pre-kick routine. Finally, he gave the nod to the place holder, and proceeded to bounce the ball off of the right upright post. You could almost hear the cries of OK State fans everywhere. It seemed as though this was another meltdown.
The Build Up:
Nic Shimonek got the ball back but he wouldn’t be able to gain much on offense. The Red Raiders had to punt and Rudolph got the ball in his hands on the Cowboys own 21 yard line.
Mason Rudolph dropped back on third and five and launched a jump ball downfield to Marcell Ateman who went up over a defender in a better position, and snatched the ball out of the air for the first down at the Red Raider 47 yard line. The Cowboys took that fresh set of downs, and drove the ball down to the Red Raider 16.
On 2nd and eight from the 16 with 1:19 left on the clock, Rudolph ran a read option. The left defensive end jumped inside in anticipation of tackling Justice Hill, only to see Rudolph pull the ball out at the last second. The end was too far out of place to make a play, and Rudolph was on the run. All of the corner backs were too busy covering their receivers in man coverage to even see the unimaginably slow QB trotting into the end zone for the victory.
The touchdown run was Rudolph’s third of the game (career high). Oklahoma State refused to take a loss this week, and Rudolph deserves all the credit for pulling it together at the end of a terrific offensive game for both teams.
The Road Ahead:
The Cowboys sealed a victory against an undefeated and very good Texas Tech team. It feels like they are back on pace, and could still make this a memorable season, for now at least. Below is a look at the rest of the schedule left after the last Oklahoma State victory.
Baylor: The Bears took Oklahoma down to the wire. The Cowboys are a better team, but taking a nap on Baylor could definitely equal a loss.
Texas: The Longhorns seem to have righted the ship after their opening loss to Maryland. They are 2-2 on the season, but they are undefeated in league play at this point.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers are a very good team behind Will Grier. He has the ability to light up State’s defense. This will be a shootout!
Oklahoma: The Sooners are a legitimate powerhouse this year. They look every bit the part of a playoff caliber team. This will be the toughest game of the season for the Cowboys.
Iowa State: All Cowboys fans can remember 2011 and the season that could have been. I don’t think the Cowboys in orange will EVER take the Cylcones for granted again.
Kansas St: The Wildcats are also undefeated in Big 12 play. Their only loss was to a good defensive SEC team in Vanderbilt.
Kansas: This is a guaranteed victory unless something insane happens.
So, other than Kansas, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have an extremely tough road ahead if they want to win the Big 12 Championship game for the first time ever. (2011 wasn’t a championship game) If they can even get there after this gauntlet, then they should be battle tested enough to win it. One game at a time will be key for Oklahoma State to still have a magical season.