You could say the 37-yard field goal by Ben Grogan is the play that won it for Oklahoma State on Saturday, after all that play made up the winning points. In a game like the Cowboys 36-34 win over previously unbeaten and under regarded Kansas State it would be easy to pick almost any play in the game. You could easily pick any scoring play in the game.
However, I feel I have a good one in mind that few could argue with.
The situation was fourth-and-eight for the Cowboys at the Oklahoma State 37-yard line with Kansas State leading 34-33 and right around two minutes left in the game. In other words, this was the ballgame. There was no time out but quarterback Mason Rudolph recalled after the game being surprised when he saw the play call signaled in.
"First, heckuva play call and I don't think we had repped that play all week because it wasn't in the game plan," the Cowboys quarterback said. "Coach (Mike) Yurcich dialed up the perfect play in that situation."
I asked him what that play was called.
"Throw it to Marcell Ateman for the first down," Rudolph answered, laughing and not wanting to give up the name of the prize winning play. "It was an awesome play call by him to put us in the best situation in order to get the first down and all the credit to coach and then to our offense for executing."
Kansas State during the course of the game had began playing more and more cover two with support underneath to make the short throws and those slants that the Cowboys had used to eat up the Wildcats defense earlier more difficult. That ended up pushing the Cowboys to deeper throws, and they had a lot of explosive plays of over 20 yards in the passing game in the second half.
But on the fourth-and-eight call you really want to use a higher percentage play if you can. Ateman ran a route that found the hole above the short coverage and split the deep safeties in cover two. Rudolph zipped the ball in to Ateman and he caught it to move the chains with the most critical first down of the season to date.
"I thought Yurcich was really good. People are on him all of the time and I thought his unpredictability to where we were throwing the ball without a running game was excellent," head coach Mike Gundy said of Yurcich's play calling. "I knew that play was not in the game plan but it was the right call at the right time for tht situation and it is one that our players know well."
It was a pretty big deal. OC and starting quarterbacks usually take the most heat of any people involved with the team, so when they deserve the credit the least you do is give it up to them. So do it already by agreeing with us that was the critical play of the game.