The Big 12 championship is still solidly in reach for No. 12 Oklahoma State, which showed Saturday just what No. 4 Baylor will be up against next week.
They did it by clobbering No. 23 Texas — and in a fashion that no team has ever done here against Mack Brown.
Quarterback Clint Chelf ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, and the Cowboys beat the Longhorns 38-13 to hand Brown his worst home loss in 16 seasons. It comes at at a time when speculation about Brown’s job security had just started quieting down following a bumbling start this season for the Longhorns.
But that’s of no concern to the Cowboys (9-1, 6-1), who won in Austin for the third straight time. They’ve now pulled off six straight wins since an early stumble against West Virginia, and have kept looking like the Big 12 contenders that many predicted to start the season.
"We understand how big the game is. I’m not sure if at times everybody wants to say that that’s a heck of a win, but it is what it is," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "You very seldom go on the road and win by more than three touchdowns with teams that are undefeated in conference play in the middle of November."
A resurgent Texas had won six in a row and this week returned to the Top 25 after a two-month absence. Now the Longhorns (7-3, 6-1) are almost certain to fall unranked again, but more costly in this blowout was relinquishing control of their destiny in the Big 12.
Texas and Oklahoma State still have yet to face undefeated No. 4 Baylor, which was playing Texas Tech later Saturday. The Cowboys host the Bears next week.
Chelf threw for 197 yards and an interception. He was also Oklahoma State’s leading rusher, running for 95 yards that were largely piled up with long sprints from the shotgun that cut through the middle of the Texas defense.
Texas running back Malcolm Brown ran for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Texas’ previous worst loss at home under Brown was a 34-12 defeat by UCLA in 2010. The Longhorns now have now been blown out at home twice this season after losing 44-23 to Ole Miss in September.
Brown bemoaned missed chances against Oklahoma State and said the Longhorns offense "didn’t do anything" after the first drive of the second half. Yet he still tried to look ahead and didn’t write-off the season.
"They’re disappointed but they know their goals are still in place. They just don’t control their own destiny," Brown said.
A close first half turned into a runaway behind two near-misses by Texas in a span of less than a minute. First up was Texas safety Adrian Phillips missing a would-be interception in the end zone, with the ball ricocheting off his hands and into the arms of Tracy Moore for an Oklahoma State touchdown.
Even more deflating for Texas was the ensuing Texas drive, when Cowboys safety Justin Gilbert picked off Case McCoy just 18 seconds before halftime and returned it 43 yards for another score.
McCoy finished 26 for 39 for 221 yards and would throw two more interceptions. Linebacker Caleb Lavey picked off one of them, running it back to Texas’ 21 to set up a Chaff touchdown pass to Charlie Moore on the very next play.
"It’s really exciting to know that we still have a chance. We’re still behind Baylor, which is a great team. We’ll definitely get started preparing for them tomorrow," Lavey said.
Charlie Moore led all Oklahoma State receivers with six catches for 83 yards.
Oklahoma State played without leading wide receiver Josh Stewart, who didn’t make the trip after appearing to injure his left leg in a win over Kansas last week. Stewart is also the nation’s leading punt returner, but aside from understudy David Glidden bobbling a few catches, the Cowboys hardly noticed his absence.
On hand to watch Brown’s worst loss ever at Royal Memorial Stadium was new athletic director Steve Patterson, who was hired from Arizona State earlier this month to replace DeLoss Dodds. Patterson has said he doesn’t intend to "make change just for the sake of making changes" as he takes over the nation’s wealthiest athletic department.
Brown began the season talking about Texas being ready to compete for a national title again after a run of uneven seasons since losing to Alabama in the title game in 2009. But the Longhorns instead started out by losing badly to BYU on the road and getting blown out at home by Ole Miss.
Speculation about Brown’s future intensified after revelations that the agent of Alabama coach Nick Saban had talked to University of Texas regents a few days after the Crimson Tide won the national championship last season.