Just two weeks ago there was some discussion whether Ben Grogan would lose his job after he missed two extra-point kicks. But in one of the most bizarre games in recent memory – including a minus-6 yard punt in the final minute to set up the winning points – Grogan’s 40-yard field goal gave Oklahoma State a 30-27 victory over Texas on Saturday.
The 24th-ranked Cowboys turned the ball over three times – allowing the Longhorns to score 14 points on a fumble and an interception by quarterback Mason Rudolph – but rallied from a 27-24 deficit in the final minutes for a program best fourth-straight win over Texas in Austin.
Grogan’s 41-yard field goal with 1:33 remaining tied the game 27-27. The Cowboys defense, which held the Longhorns to 48 total yards and two first downs in the second half, sacked UT quarterback Jerrod Heard twice on the next possession. Mike Gundy called timeout with 42 seconds left to force Texas to punt on fourth down from the Longhorns 24-yard line.
Then Texas punter Michael Dickson gave the Cowboys a gift. The snap sailed through Dickson’s hands and the Longhorns punter hurried a left-footed kick that went for minus-6 yards, giving OSU the ball on the UT 18 with 36 seconds still to play.
Grogan came on and nailed the game-winning 40-yard field goal – his first since last season’s game winner in overtime to give OSU the Bedlam win over Oklahoma – three plays later with the clock showing just six seconds.
“I think having already gone out there and kicked the one to tie it (27-27), I was confident,” said Grogan. “I kind of put it in my head that I’ll probably have to go out there again just in case, and it ended up happening. So I was ready when it happened.”
But Grogan wasn’t the only hero for the Cowboys. The OSU defense was outstanding, especially in the second half when they contained Heard and the Longhorns offense. Texas finished with 290 total yards and the Longhorns were 4-of-16 on third-down conversions.
OSU recorded seven sacks, tying for the third most in a single game in school history. It was the most since the Cowboys had eight sacks against Iowa State in 2004.
“I thought our defense was strong in the fourth quarter,” said Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy. “I thought we were healthy and running. We were chasing that quarterback, (and) that guy’s going to be a good player now. We’re going to get tired of chasing him. We were catching him and corralling him. “
The Longhorns only points in the second half came on Horton Hill’s 41-yard interception return after Rudolph overthrew Austin Hays. That interception was one of three turnovers by the Cowboys sophomore quarterback, who was 22 of 34 passing for 290 yards but had by far the worst game of his seven-game college career.
With a 14-6 lead and having already driven for touchdowns (on 69- and 75-yard drives the first two times they touched the ball), it seemed like Rudolph and the Cowboys were close to putting the proverbial nail in the coffin early in the second quarter. But Rudolph dropped the ball while dropping back to pass – without a Longhorn near him – and Texas defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway scooped it up, running 34 yards for a touchdown to pull within 14-13.
The Cowboys went ahead 17-13 on the first of Grogan’s three field goals on the day – a 34-yarder kick that capped a 12-play, 58-yard drive. But the Longhorns then put together their only real sustained drive of the game – marching 97 yards in 11 plays – to take a 20-17 lead on a 7-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes a few minutes before halftime.
OSU retook the lead 24-20 by going 98 yards in 13 plays early in the third quarter with J.W. Walsh throwing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Seaton with 8:12 on the clock.
The Cowboys wouldn’t give up and have now won four in a row over the Longhorns in Austin.
“I’m not sure that I’ve been in a game that had as many ups and downs, and highs and lows, since we played [Texas] Tech [in 2007],” Gundy said. “The only difference was there were a lot of mistakes in the game. We gave them a free touchdown when he dropped the ball and they ran it in and then we throw the pick for a touchdown. That’s 14 points.
“There’s got to be a percentage out there that says if you give the other team 14 points off turnovers on the road in conference, there’s probably a 95 percent chance you’re going to lose. Here’s what I got out of it, we’ve got a lot to work on. We’re not a very good running football team right now. I don’t think it’s our schemes, I just think we’ve got to get better, we’ve got to keep working, we’ve got to get stronger. We can make a few adjustments.
“I’m not down on us. The matchup, to use a basketball term, has been a concern of ours all week. Those three guys in there, that’s not a strength for us right now. That was a concern,” Gundy added.
“There were a lot of mistakes made, and we can talk about that. They made mistakes, we made mistakes but ultimately our team found a way to win, the fourth time in a row they’ve come to Austin and won a football game. It doesn’t make a difference to me who, what, when, why, where or how, that’s a hell of an accomplishment for a football team to come down here and win.
“I’m proud of our team, proud of our coaches for what we were able to accomplish, and excited about getting back next week and going to work.”