Mike Gundy knows his job is to win football games while also selling tickets to Oklahoma State football games. He’s won more games than any other coach in school history and also likes to say that Cowboys fans get their money worth when they come to Boone Pickens Stadium.
That was certainly the case Saturday as the 13th-ranked OSU Cowboys defeated Texas Tech 45-44 to extend their winning streak to six games. OSU is now 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the Big 12, while Tech falls to 4-6 and 2-5.
The Cowboys averaged better than nine yards per play and rolled up 605 total yards of offense against one of the nation’s worst defenses, but won thanks to a missed extra-point kick by Texas Tech kicker Clayton Hatfield after the Red Raiders had pulled within one point with 1:44 left to play.
OSU’s James Washington recovered the Red Raiders onside kick, and the Cowboys then ran out the clock for the victory.
“It was a good college football game, and a great win for us,” Gundy said. "As always, if you come to a game in Stillwater during conference play, you're probably going to get your money's worth. I've said that each week.
“I was really proud of our team today in all three phases. We played a very similar game to what we played against West Virginia. Offensively, we were good. The quarterback (Mason Rudolph) was good, and we were able to rush the ball.”
The Cowboys averaged 5.5 yards per rush – the best game average this season – against the Red Raiders. Freshman Justice Hill led the way with 126 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries (7.0 average), and senior Chris Carson added 73 and two TDs on 10 carries (7.3).
Carson’s second scoring run of the day – a 19-yarder midway through the third quarter – that gave the Cowboys a 35-28 lead. Ben Grogan’s 27-yard field goal pushed the lead to 38-28 before Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes scored to cut it to three points.
Rudolph’s 82-yard touchdown pass to James Washington – the Cowboys duo also connected for an 82-yard scoring play in last week’s win over Kansas State – pushed the lead back to 45-35 entering the fourth quarter.
Hatfield’s 27-yard field goal with a little more than nine minutes made it a seven-point game, and then the Red Raiders pulled within 45-44 on Quinton White Jr.’s 1-yard TD run with 1:44 to play.
All 54,288 spectators inside Boone Pickens Stadium were thinking that overtime was a possibility when Hatfield pushed the extra-point kick wide to the right.
Washington caught the onside kick and the Cowboys then ran out the clock with the OSU coaching staff instructing Carson to go down instead of scoring on several plays in the final minute. Gundy didn’t want to give Mahomes another chance after the Red Raiders quarterback had already accounted for five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing).
The Texas Tech quarterback was 34-of-51 passing for 344 yards with three touchdowns. Rudolph was 20-of-28 passing for 395 yards and two TDs.
“I think (Patrick) Mahomes is a first-round pick, and he showed that today in different areas,” Gundy said. “I suggested to him after the game that he comes out early, and if he's looking for an agent, then we can find somebody. He's a nice young man. When you play a team like that, that has a quarterback with those capabilities, then it's going to be pretty exciting in the end.”
The Cowboys are 4-1 in games decided by seven or fewer points this season, including wins over Kansas State (43-37), Iowa State (38-31) and Pittsburgh (45-38). The lone loss is the 30-27 setback to Central Michigan.
“I'm not sure what it is. I think there is some truth to them believing in themselves makes a big difference,” Gundy said about the Cowboys making the plays to win close games. “When you start to win over a period of years, you feel like you're going to win. Your mind is much more powerful than the physical part of your body, and we believe in that, so they just play hard and I'm proud of them.
“I told them in the locker room that it's fun for me to sit back and cross my arms and watch them play, even though the games are exciting and pressure-packed. It's fun to watch them. They like being around each other, they're good young men, they play hard, and as a coach, what more could you ask for? Nothing.”