Oklahoma State is a better team than Texas Tech, or at least it was supposed to be.
The Cowboys are harboring the nation’s best receiver-running back combo in Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard behind a young, athletic quarterback in Spencer Sanders. The defensive secondary is led by two three-year starters at cornerback and the linebacker play has been solid.
This should have been an easy win for the No. 21 Cowboys when looking at the matchup on paper. The Red Raiders stunned OSU fans with a shocking 45-35 win over the Pokes, something they hadn’t done in AT&T Jones Stadium since 2008.
It was an 11 a.m. kickoff and the Cowboys looked as if they were still wiping the crust from their eyes in the first quarter.
“We practiced really hard this week,” offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson said. “I thought our Wednesday practice was the best practice of the year, so I was a little bit surprised with the way we came out, but we’ll get it cleaned up.”
OSU didn’t put points on the board until its 10th possession after scoring on the first drive in three of the previous four games. The slow start put the Cowboys in a 20-point hole from which they couldn’t crawl out.
“We came out slow like I said, and you can’t do that in the Big 12. Teams get out fast,” said Hubbard, who finished with 156 rushing yards and three touchdowns. “Like I said, live and learn, and we’ve just got to be better next (game).”
The offensive line didn’t get a good push on the pass protection for much of the game and the defense made Texas Tech backup Jett Duffey look like one of the best quarterbacks in the country. OSU allowed 424 passing yards and four touchdowns and let Duffey pick up Texas Tech’s lone rushing score.
The Cowboys had two tough weeks before Saturday, playing back-to-back ranked opponents. They had a solid showing in the 36-30 loss to No. 12 Texas two weeks ago and bounced back with a 26-13 win against a previously undefeated No. 24-ranked Kansas State team. That win put OSU in the Top 25 for the first time this season.
Taking care of business in Lubbock would have been a solid three-week stretch for OSU heading into the bye week, but the Red Raiders had other plans. Instead of catching a breather with a comfortable win after two tough weeks, OSU looked sluggish, with five turnovers on offense and sloppy tackling on defense.
“We’ve been pretty good tacklers this year. We weren’t good tacklers today,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “So maybe I worked them too hard (in practice). Maybe I gassed them out.”
Hubbard had 34 carries to put him over 30 touches in four of the past five games. The bye week will give him and the rest of the team a chance to rest and refocus. The Cowboys have a few tough games waiting for them when they resume, including homecoming.
OSU will host a potentially undefeated Baylor team, which has been playing well under third-year coach Matt Rhule, in front of its homecoming crowd. The Cowboys will travel to Ames, Iowa, the following week to face an Iowa State team that just beat TCU 49-24. Hosting TCU the week after won’t be an easy task, either.
“I think that we can do better things to put our kids in better situations but we’re going to spread the blame around the entire unit,” Gleeson said of the Texas Tech loss. “What’s good now is that we’ve got two hard weeks to kind of get ourselves back and get after this Baylor team.”