STILLWATER, Okla. – Trevone Boykin probably never wants to make another trip to Boone Pickens Stadium. The TCU senior quarterback arrived with his Horned Frog teammates as one of the Heisman Trophy favorites entering November but that’s certainly not the case now, following Oklahoma State’s performance Saturday. The Cowboys intercepted Boykin four times and shut down the seventh-best scoring offense in the nation en route to a 49-29 victory.
OSU, ranked 14th in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, improves to 9-0 for only the third time in school history with the win. TCU suffers its first loss of the season to fall to 8-1.
Boykin has now been intercepted seven times in his last two trips to play the Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. He threw for 445 yards and one touchdown on Saturday but the OSU defense was the real winner – as were Mason Rudolph (16 of 24 passing for 352 yards and five TDs) and James Washington (five catches for 184 yards and three scores). The Cowboys’ longest scoring drive lasted 1:13, and had others of 0:03, 0:26, 0:46 and 0:57.
“Offensively, we were able to get the deep ball going. We felt like that would be an advantage for us going into the game,” said Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy. “Mason [Rudolph] did a great job with getting the ball to the people that we needed to.”
In a game full of big plays, Rudolph and Washington made the first just four minutes in as they hooked up on a 48-yard scoring pass to give the Cowboys a lead they would keep the rest of the way. Boykin scored on a 1-yard run to pull within 7-6 but the extra-point kick was blocked by Vincent Taylor, and just 26 seconds later the Rudolph-to-Washington combo struck again on a 50-yard touchdown pass.
The same pair struck again midway through the third quarter on a 74-yard scoring play to push the Cowboys lead to 42-16.
But the Cowboys defense also had its share of big plays, including the four interceptions (two by middle linebacker Chad Whitener and one each by Jordan Burton and Tre Flowers). They only sacked Boykin three times but made the big plays when they were needed.
“He had a bad game. It just happened to be the game that we needed him to play well,” said TCU head coach Gary Patterson. “You go in with a game plan to throw to No. 9 [Josh Doctson] and then No. 9 isn’t there anymore [after leaving the game with an injury]. Your whole set of rules change in this offense because we set plays up for people, and when that person leaves, then you take X amount of plays away. He has a certain amount of skills that the other guy doesn’t have. He’s a competitor. He’s in there in tears right now because nobody in there hurts worse than he does right now. He’s a competitor, and he’ll get back in there next week.”
Despite giving up 663 total yards and 36 first downs to the Horned Frogs, Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was proud of his defense.
"I want someone to look at the stats and tell me we had a bad game so that I can laugh it off. For these guys, this was outstanding, and I'm so proud of them. It was a huge night,” Spencer said. “There were 110 gradeable snaps so they probably played 120 when you take off penalties and such. Those guys are exhausted.”
Whitener, the transfer from California who moved into the starting lineup when three-year starter Ryan Simmons went down with a season-ending injury, was outstanding for the Cowboys. In addition to the two interceptions, he tied star linebacker Jordan Burton with 12 total tackles.
The sophomore intercepted Boykin’s first pass of the second half and returned it 23 yards to the TCU 1-yard line, where J.W. Walsh punched it into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 35-9 lead just three minutes into the second half.
Whitener added a 42-yard interception and return for a touchdown with just 44 seconds remaining in the game to send the crowd of 59,061 into a frenzy.
“First off, you have to give Coach Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys a lot of credit. They kicked our butts,” Patterson said. “You can’t give up big plays, and you can’t turn the ball over. If you do that, you’re not going to win big ballgames. They had 30 plays and 28 points in the first half. We fought our ways back into it. Basically, the defense gave up one touchdown in the second half, but it was too late. You have to score and get yourself back into things. I give them all the credit.”
The Cowboys are 9-0 for the first time since their Big 12 championship season of 2011, and will travel to Iowa State to face the Cyclones (3-6) next Saturday.
"I'm really proud of our team,” Gundy said. “I'm proud of our coaches, and I thought the defensive staff did a tremendous job in their game plan. The players bought in, and we reduced their reps in practice this week to try and keep them fresh. It worked for us. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I'm just really proud of the guys for being able to run them down some and make some plays.”