Over on the offensive side the Oklahoma State offense had trouble running the football but for the Cowboys defense stopping the run proved to be the root of the problem of getting off the field and also limiting the opportunities for big plays that Baylor was able to hit on despite playing with a beat up second-team quarterback and then a very limited in experience third-team quarterback that actually may have been a real strong ingredient to getting the win because of his dual threat ability.
Before even discussing quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham, who earned a courage medal for his play in the first half, and little known or seen Chris Johnson, who proved really good in the second half, you have to credit that Baylor offensive line and the combination of running backs in Big 12 leading rusher Shock Linwood, Johnny Jefferson and Devin Chafin, who combined for 213 rushing yards.
"That was the difficult thing for us, and we never really could overcome it," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy. "They have a lot of team speed, and they caught us at times tonight. I thought our guys fought. They never gave up. Their attitude was good, and they played with a lot of effort. We made some adjustments on defense and slowed them down a little bit, but we couldn't effectively stop the run when we needed to."
"We couldn't stop anything," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said as he famous for no excuses. "They're hard to stop and very good, and evidently, they're a lot better team than us. When you get hit on a couple of deep balls, you find something to do there and then you leave something open somewhere else. They're a balanced team and executed a lot better than us. They have good skill kids that can match up and beat you at any time."
No excuses will be given for the Oklahoma State defense but the Cowboys depth has been trimmed some, and going back to the Texas Tech game they have defended 372 plays in the last four games with Baylor snapping the ball 104 times on Saturday night. The Cowboys could not stop the run. It wasn't like they were being gashed but the Baylor drives all seemed part grinding it out and then toss in a big play in the passing game.
"Maybe at the end there was some fatigue and we didn't have any guys to roll in there, but it was just a bad matchup tonight," Spencer added. "They have a good team, and I wasn't pleased with our execution. I thought we had a good week of practice. They had one of those nights and we just didn't have an answer to a couple of things based on a missed tackle here or a coverage bust."
The first drive was more blitzkrieg in its execution as reminiscent of a year ago the Bears hit for 48 yards on the first play as Stidham hit Corey Coleman down the Baylor sideline for a 48-yard gain. It looked like the Cowboys were in man-zone coverage with man coverage on the other side of the field and on the zone side both the corner and safety misread the play and allowed Coleman to run by both.
"We just can't make mistakes. The first play of the game, I made a mistake and it led to a touchdown," free safety Jordan Sterns admitted. "I can't let that happen. We just have to keep working hard."
Three Shock Linwood runs later of one yard, 10 y ards, and five yards for the touchdown the Bears were up 7-0.
The next drive was also more lightning in feel as after several plays including an errant snap on a trick play that had Stidham walking away toward the sidelines and a direct snap to Linwood that went past him but he still recovered and gained eight yards, Stidham either faked or was surprised and held the ball as Cannon either double moved or ran a wrong route. Either way Stidham hit a wide open Cannon, who ran the rest of the turf to cover a 59-yard scoring play.
From that point on most of the Baylor scoring drives featured grinding run segments, including a 13-play, 83-yard drive that ended on the first play of the second quarter and within it was the first six plays that featured runs of 5, 3, 7, 3, 8, and 15 yards. It seemed like every time Baylor needed 4, 3, 2, or 1 yard for a first down conversion they would get it. A drive for a field goal before halftime started with a 24-yard pass play and then a 17-yard pass completion, but then had six running plays for 17 yards that just moved the chains.
The second half Baylor pretty much rendered the Cowboys usual halftime adjustments useless when they came back with third-team quarterback Chris Johnson, who brought into the game with him the quarterback run aspect and now Baylor began running their zone read plays again.
The Bears even confused the Cowboys up front by pretty much ditching their "dart" blocking schemes of pulling tackles and went to straight ahead zone blocking and pulling the guards in some instances. It wasn't like they dominated with the run, but more like they scrapped by with it as the longest run of the night in their 304-yard rushing effort was 16 yards on a scramble by Stidham, but they ran 73 times in the game for an average of 4.2 yards a carry and used that to control the game.
Oklahoma State came out ahead on turnovers as defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah was spectacular, including one play when he beat tackle Pat Colbert, who was holding him, stripped the ball from Stidham and recovered the ball himself. Sterns had an interception that set up a touchdown, but even with a 3-0 lead in turnovers it wasn't enough as Baylor controlled the game with their steady run game.
"It was a Greek tragedy," Spencer said injecting some drama. "I'm a big boy though so I'll take responsibility."
"We've got to rally these guys, get them back tomorrow and start getting ready for the next game," Gundy added.
Rest and improvement need to be on tap for Thanksgiving week as Oklahoma comes in for Bedlam on Saturday with a run game as potentially good as the one Baylor displayed on Saturday night.