Walsh directed the offense the first three times the Cowboys touched the ball but two of those drives ended with the third-year sophomore throwing interceptions. Chelf entered the game on the Cowboys fourth drive of the game with a 7-0 lead, but that was only because of Stewart's record-breaking punt return in front of the largest crowd to ever see an OSU home game (59,638).
Stewart retreated to his own 5-yard line to field Ethan Perry's 54-yard punt, made a few moves to make a couple of Horned Frogs miss and then got some good downfield blocks en route to the 95-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys the early lead. Stewart's punt return is the longest in school history, surpassing the previous mark of 90 yards (accomplished twice, in 1956 by Jim Wiggins vs. Detroit and in 1946 by Jim Spavital vs. Drake).
"Our defense was tremendous. One thing I've mentioned is that if you can find a way to win two of the three phases (of the game) then you've got a good chance to win a football game," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy.
"The challenge in this game is TCU's return game is really good but we won the game (of special teams). We were poor kicking field goals but we won the return game and changed the field, and obviously scored once in the return game, and I think that was the difference.
"We were really good on defense. There's a lot of talk about TCU (on defense), and they deserve a lot of credit. But I don't think anybody should discount our defense, and the credit they deserve and the way they played. It's a great win for us," said Gundy.
The Cowboys were up 17-0 at halftime thanks to freshman Ben Grogan's 28-yard field goal and running back Desmond Roland's 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. But it should have been much more than a 17-point advantage.
Walsh's second interception came at the end of a 14-play, 88-yard drive in which he had directed the Cowboys from their own 6-yard line to the TCU 6. But on a second-and-goal play for the 6, the quarterback's pass intended for Tracy Moore was picked off by TCU's Elisa Olabode in the end zone.
The play of the defense gave the Cowboys numerous scoring opportunities in the first half.
Safety Daytawion Lowe's interception of a deflected pass by OSU defensive tackle James Castleman put the Cowboys offense in scoring position at the TCU 37. Chelf found Jhajuan Seales for 20 yards to the 8-yard line and two plays later Roland scored.
But the Cowboys also missed some chances in the first half. Justin Gilbert's interception and 35-yard return gave Chelf and the offense the ball inside the 30-yard line but Jeremy Smith was stopped in the backfield on a fourth-and-one play from the 17.
On the very next play, middle linebacker Caleb Lavey recovered a fumble at the 15. But after netting just one yard on three plays the Cowboys were forced to try a field goal, and Grogan's 31-yard attempt was wide right.
Chelf and the Cowboys got the ball back with 55 seconds in the first half on their own 25. They drove 60 yards in eight plays to the TCU 15-yard line before calling a timeout with three seconds left to attempt Grogan's third field goal of the first half. But his 32-yard attempt was wide right.
Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer's group did the job for much of the second half before allowed the Horned Frogs to drive 77 yards to pull within 17-10 on Waymon James' 14-yard scoring run with 7:39 left in the fourth quarter.
But the special teams came up with another big play when Brandon Sheperd brought the kickoff back 50 yards to the TCU 47. It took Chelf and the offense just four plays – including a highlight reel-type catch by Stewart on a pass from Charlie Moore on a reverse – to punch it into the end zone and all but clinch the win on freshman Rennie Childs 7-yard touchdown run.