Cowboys Get Big Win

Mike Gundy asked a former teammate for a little help Saturday. Barry Sanders didn't put on a Cowboy uniform again (although it may have looked like it the way Dantrell Savage ran), but he talked to the Oklahoma State football team before the Big 12 game with 20th-ranked Nebraska. The Cowboys made Sanders happy with an improbable 41-29 victory over the Cornhuskers at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Oklahoma State fell behind 16-0 and it appeared that Nebraska was on its way to a road win entering next Saturday's showdown against Missouri with the Big 12 North lead on the line. But a funny thing happened at that point – Cowboy sophomore quarterback Bobby Reid took control, and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford's defense came to life.

Reid threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for another 61 yards – including a momentum-changing 56-yarder in the second quarter – as the Cowboys rallied for the biggest win of Gundy's head coaching career. OSU scored 21 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to rally from a three-point deficit to go up 41-23.

"Barry was in the locker room and on the sideline," Reid said. "Barry gave us a little speech to try to fire us up. He said, ‘Just go out and win.' He told us he expected us to win."

That's what the Cowboys did against a Cornhusker defense that was giving up 320 total yards and 102 rushing yards a game. Nebraska couldn't stop Reid and the OSU offense, which finished with 496 total yards – 267 on the ground and 229 through the air.

Nebraska took the lead by scoring on its first three possessions of the game – two after Cowboy turnovers – to take a 16-0 lead with just under 11 minutes left in the first half.

Reid dropped back to pass on the Cowboys' next possession and took off running when he couldn't find an open receiver. It wasn't until he'd gone 56 yards – a run reminiscent of Texas quarterback Vince Young's scamper against OSU last season – which he was brought down at the Nebraska 21-yard line. Three plays later, on a third-and-5 play from the 16, Reid found Keith Toston coming out of the backfield for the Cowboys' first touchdown of the day – the first of six OSU TDs.

Reid directed a four-play, 50-yard drive the next time the Cowboys got the ball to pull within 16-13 on Savage's 18-yard scoring run around the left side. But it appeared the Cornhuskers would take a 10-point lead in at halftime when NU quarterback Zac Taylor threw to Maurice Purify for a 22-yard touchdown with just 56 seconds left in the half.

The Cowboys, thanks to a 39-yard kickoff return by Perrish Cox, got good field position at Nebraska's 45. But the OSU offense was slow coming out on the field and nearly 20 seconds ran off the clock before Reid could get the ball snapped. It didn't matter. He threw a perfect strike to Adarius Bowman on a post pattern and he split two Cornhuskers en route to a 45-yard catch and run for a touchdown to pull OSU within 23-20 at halftime.

"That was real important," Reid said. "It wasn't a busted play but a couple guys out of my 11 weren't sure what the play was. I was yelling and screaming and then I snapped the ball and said, ‘Well, here goes nothing.' The defense gave me what I wanted, and AD made a good play, the line blocked it… everything worked."

That could sum up the entire second half for the Cowboys. Bedford's defense held the Cornhuskers throughout the second half – after allowing Nebraska 268 yards on just 33 offensive plays in the first two quarters – and the Cowboy offense took control of the game.

Even when the Cowboys weren't scoring they put together drives of 11 and seven plays in the third quarter. It was a four-play, 76-yard drive that finally got the Cowboys over the hump. Reid threw deep to D'Juan Woods for 55 yards down to the Cornhusker 20-yard line, and Savage went 20 yards on the very next play for the go-ahead touchdown.

After the Cowboy defense forced a Nebraska punt, Reid and the offense marched 77 yards in nine plays to punch it in again. The big plays were a Reid-to-Bowman connection for 19 yards, a Savage 18-yard run in which he did a 360-degree turn in the backfield (reminiscent of Barry Sanders), and freshman Keith Toston runs of 14 and 9 yards. Julius Crosslin scored on a 1-yard run to make it 34-23 with just a little more than eight minutes to play.

But OSU fans had seen similar leads evaporate in a whole lot less time than eight minutes this season. Not this time. As a matter of fact, the Cowboy defense actually put the game out of reach when linebacker Patrick Lavine forced Taylor to fumble and defensive end Nathan Peterson scooped it up and ran 19 yards for OSU's final touchdown.

"Late in the game we put a lot of pressure on a very good quarterback," Gundy said. "We did a good job of getting push in the A-gaps, and not giving him the opportunity to see what's going on down the field. I was particularly pleased with the way Coach Bedford handled the last six minutes with putting pressure on. We didn't rush two and three. We went after them and we played well enough in the secondary to do that."

Nebraska added a touchdown with just seven seconds remaining but this time the Cowboys had more than enough to capture the victory. OSU improves to 5-3 and needs just one win in its final four games to become bowl eligible. The Cowboys will go after that win next Saturday when they face the Texas Longhorns in Austin.

"It's a good day for Oklahoma State. I'm proud to wear orange," Gundy said. "I'm proud for the Oklahoma State people, the faithful and the sea of orange out there that say no matter what we're behind you all the way.

"As an alum and an ex-player it makes me proud to stand up here today and say we got it done."

GoPokes Top Stories