Cowboys’ roller-coaster season dips once again
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.