The Oklahoma State Cowboys can’t complain following Saturday night’s 35-24 loss to No. 16 Baylor in Waco, Texas. The Cowboys only have themselves to blame for losing three games in a row to the Bears for the first time since 1942.
Head coach Mike Gundy’s team had numerous scoring opportunities in the fourth quarter – two from inside the 5-yard line – against the Bears but couldn’t take advantage of either in suffering the loss.
The Cowboys trailed 28-24 in the fourth quarter when they drove 76 yards in six plays and appeared to have a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line on freshman Justice Hill’s 13-yard rush but the freshman fumbled and Baylor recovered at the 1 with nine minutes remaining.
The Bears turned Hill’s fumble – his second of the game – into the game-clinching touchdown as they drove 99 yards.
Earlier in the second half, OSU’s defense gave Rudolph and the Cowboys a great opportunity. The Cowboys stuffed Baylor’s Terence Williams for no gain on a fourth-and-1, and OSU took over on the Bears 24-yard line.
Seven plays later, on a fourth-and-2 situation from the Baylor 4-yard line, Gundy made the decision to go for it instead of kicking a field goal which could have pulled the Cowboys within 28-27. OSU running back Rennie Childs was stopped for a 1-yard gain, and the Bears took over.
Those missed scoring opportunities would haunt the Cowboys, who ran 101 plays and controlled the clock (41:27 time of possession as compared to just 18:33 for Baylor).
The OSU running game was better than it had been in a long time as the Cowboys rushed for 213 yards – the first time they surpassed the 200-yard mark since last season’s win over Kansas. Hill ran for a career-best 122 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter to tie the score 7-7.
Childs ran for 35 yards on 18 carries, and scored two TDs (a week after rushing for four touchdowns against Pittsburgh). His 3-yard touchdown capped a 14-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter which made it a 14-14 tie, and then his 3-yard scoring run midway through the third period put the finishing touches on a 16-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half as the Cowboys tied it up 21-21.
The Bears regained the lead 28-21 just two plays later on Seth Russell’s 89-yard touchdown pass to Chris Platt.
The Cowboys called on Ben Grogan to kick a 28-yard field goal to pull within 28-24 after a 64-yard drive stalled at the Baylor 11-yard line (another red zone opportunity that in hindsight could have made a difference in the outcome).
Mason Rudolph was 27 of 45 passing for 279 yards with one interception. He completed passes to nine different receivers with James Washington (6 for 89 yards) and Jalen McCleskey (5 for 77) leading the way.
OSU fans should have known this was going to be a strange one just a few minutes into the game.
The Cowboys offense didn’t touch the ball for more than an hour and a half after the opening kickoff because of a lightning delay just a few minutes after the game started. Baylor went 75 yards in just six plays to score a touchdown, but the Big 12 officials cleared the field before the extra-point kick could even be attempted.
When Rudolph did lead the offense onto the field more than an hour and a half later the Cowboys trailed 7-0.