Cow­boys’ roller-coaster sea­son dips once again

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - COWBOY POSTGAME -

It was far from pretty. It cer­tainly didn’t feel good.

But it fit the script of the Ok­la­homa State foot­ball sea­son.

For the bet­ter part of two months, Pis­tol Pete has looked like a mil­i­tary-grade sharp­shooter when the com­pe­ti­tion is at its high­est, but can’t get the six-shooter out of his hol­ster against op­po­nents from the bot­tom half of the Big 12 Con­fer­ence.

So Satur­day night’s 31-24 loss to TCU (6-6) at Amon G. Carter Sta­dium shouldn’t sur­prise any­one who’s been track­ing the rise and fall of this Cow­boy team.

OSU con­cludes the reg­u­lar sea­son at 6-6, and will go to a bowl for the 13th con­sec­u­tive year, but that’s about the only pos­i­tive those in or­ange and black could fall back on Satur­day night.

Early in the game, it ap­peared that the penalty is­sue OSU has strug­gled with in some of its tough­est losses was go­ing to be a prob­lem again.

Mo­ments af­ter the OSU de­fense forced a fum­ble on TCU’s open­ing

pos­ses­sion, an of­fen­sive pass in­ter­fer­ence penalty on Cow­boy re­ceiver Ty­lan Wal­lace took a touch­down off the board.

OSU ended up set­tling for a 39-yard field goal from Matt Am­men­dola on its first of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion, and wouldn’t put any more points on the board un­til 4:37 re­mained in the third quar­ter.

The Cow­boys were flagged for two more ma­jor penal­ties in the first half, but nei­ther was as im­pact­ful as the first.

TCU was about as in­ef­fec­tive as you’d ex­pect with a third-string quar­ter­back mak­ing his first ca­reer start. Grayson Muehlstein led TCU on a nine-play, 67-yard drive for the game’s first touch­down and a 7-3 lead with 1:09 left in the first half.

Af­ter half­time changes boosted the Cow­boys in last week’s up­set of West Vir­ginia, the third quar­ter in­stead brought even more dra­matic mis­for­tune.

A dropped back­ward pass by run­ning back Chuba Hub­bard was scooped up by TCU’s Jawuan John­son and re­turned 15 yards for a touch­down.

Forced to punt on its next pos­ses­sion, OSU pinned TCU at its own 17, but do-it-all star Jalen Reagor got loose for an 83-yard touch­down run on the next play.

A busted pass cov­er­age by OSU led to an­other TCU touch­down be­fore the Cow­boys got about the busi­ness of try­ing to rally.

They made it in­ter­est­ing, twice get­ting within a touch­down in the fourth quar­ter, and get­ting two pos­ses­sions while trail­ing 31-24, though both were deep in their own ter­ri­tory.

A TCU team dec­i­mated by in­juries and look­ing like a shell of the pro­gram it has been in the last few years seemed like a cushy op­po­nent for an OSU squad that ap­peared to have lev­eled off af­ter the roller-coaster of Oc­to­ber and early Novem­ber.

Two strong per­for­mances to nearly beat OU, then up­set West Vir­ginia looked like the team OSU had be­come, rather than the one that flopped at Bay­lor and got man­han­dled at Kansas State.

Yet the sto­ry­line hadn’t changed af­ter all. The Cow­boys were just good enough to keep them­selves in any game they played, no mat­ter how good or bad the op­po­nent was.

Scott Wright [email protected] ok­la­homan.com

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