Stars faltered, but Cowboys still get big win

BY foxsports • October 16, 2011

Oklahoma State got the kind of win championship seasons are made of. When the Cowboys' best players were struggling, others stepped up to make the big plays.

Two long touchdown runs by Jeremy Smith and a 100-yard kickoff return by Justin Gilbert helped the No. 6 Cowboys (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) overcome a sluggish game from quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon to beat Texas 38-26 on Saturday.

It was the kind of win that builds even more confidence for a tough stretch run through the Big 12. The Cowboys have won eight straight road games and travel to Missouri next weekend.

Texas, meanwhile, continues to struggle to find any kind of win in the Big 12. The Longhorns (4-2) have lost seven of their last eight in the Big 12 and haven't won at home in conference play since 2009.

Oklahoma State got the kind of win championship seasons are made of. When the Cowboys' best players were struggling, others stepped up to make the big plays.

Two long touchdown runs by Jeremy Smith and a 100-yard kickoff return by Justin Gilbert helped the Cowboys (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) overcome a sluggish game from quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon to beat 38-26 on Saturday.

And while Texas (4-2, 1-2) is clearly still in a rebuilding year after a 5-7 collapse in 2010, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy knew his team had earned the sort of win that could have just as easily collapsed in a loss, especially in a place where Oklahoma State has historically struggled.

It was the kind of win that builds even more confidence for a tough stretch run through the Big 12.

''I thought we played good, not great,'' Gundy said. ''There weren't a lot of receivers for us who were running free ... It's not easy playing down here. It's a tough environment to be in and I thought it was a really good win for this team.''

It was the kind of win that builds even more confidence for a tough stretch run through the Big 12.

Texas' young secondary, ripped apart by No. 3 Oklahoma a week earlier, played like a different group against a Cowboys team boasting the No. 2 passing offense and No. 1 scoring offense in the country.

The Longhorns held Weeden to 218 yards passing and gave up just one touchdown pass to Blackmon, who had only one catch for three yards in the second half.

With those two struggling, Smith provided the scoring punch with his two long touchdown runs, giving him at least one touchdown in 10 straight games.

Smith's first against Texas came on a 4th-and-inches play that he turned into a 30-yard burst off left tackle in the second quarter. The second came in the third when he broke off a 74-yard run - again up the middle - that put the Cowboys ahead 38-24.

''He's a beast,'' Weeden said.

Sandwiched between Smith's TDs was Gilbert's touchdown return on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. The touchdown seemed to put the Cowboys on the verge of a rout until Texas' Fozzy Whittaker returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown just seconds later.

At that point, it was clear the heavily-favored Cowboys weren't going to get out of Austin with an easy win. And when Texas cut the lead to 28-24 of Malcolm Brown's second touchdown run of the day, it was starting to get the feel of all those Texas comebacks in years past. Oklahoma State had lost 12 in a row to Texas from 1998-2009 before getting a win in Austin last season.

''I think it says a lot about the character,'' of the team, Weeden said. ''We finished. That's the main thing. I was here in '07-'08 when they beat us in the fourth quarter. We finished the game out on the road in a tough environment. I'm really proud of the guys.''

The Oklahoma State defense, at the root of so many previous collapses against Texas in years past, held tough in the second half. After Oklahoma State gave up a safety when Weeden backed out of his own end zone, the ensuing kickoff gave Texas the ball at the Longhorns 41.

Instead of letting the Longhorns build momentum, the defense forced a three-and-out, including a sack. And Texas' last chance to rally ended when Daytawion Lowe sacked David Ash, causing a fumble that Cooper Basset recovered on the Oklahoma State 43 with 4:34 to play.

''We took a blow to the face there when we got the safety, but then our defense came right back out and got a big stop and turned the momentum the other way,'' Gundy said.

Oklahoma State has won eight in a row on the road and will get another test next week at Missouri.

For the Longhorns, the loss showed they are getting better but still have a long way to go to get back among the nation's elite.

Freshman quarterback David Ash got his first start and took every snap after rotating with sophomore Case McCoy the previous three weeks. Ash had three turnovers and now has five in the last two games. Texas got its best production out of a running game that pounded out 231 yards.

The loss ended a couple of long streaks of Texas success.

Under coach Mack Brown, the Longhorns were 13-0 in the game immediately following the annual rivalry with Oklahoma. And Texas had been 70-0 under Brown when rushing from at least 200 yards.

The Longhorns have now lost seven of their last eight Big 12 games and lost six of their last 10 at home. The Longhorns haven't won a conference game at home since Nov. 21, 2009, in former quarterback Colt McCoy's last game in Austin.

''It's more frustrating that we lost than anything,'' Texas defensive tackle Keeston Randall said. ''We could play bad and win. I'm sure we'd rather have that, but we're just getting so close.''


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