'They like the pressure': Breaking down Oklahoma State's final six defensive series against Texas

Scott Wright

STILLWATER — After Texas scored with 11:43 left in the third quarter to take an 11-point lead against Oklahoma State on Saturday, it felt like the Cowboys were in trouble.

Perhaps after five strong games, the OSU defense was in for a letdown. 

But from that point, Texas had six more possessions, netted 12 total yards and no first downs, while the Cowboy offense scored 19 straight points for a 32-24 win at Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas

“Particularly in the fourth quarter, we did things maybe we hadn’t done or shown a lot in the past,” OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “And that’s a credit to the players. They understand the system. They like the pressure.”

And the pressure was certainly on the Cowboy defense after allowing the 38-yard touchdown run to Bijan Robinson. One more score, or even a long, time-consuming Texas drive might have killed OSU’s rally.

But starting with their quarterback pressure on Texas’ Casey Thompson, OSU snuffed out the Longhorn momentum.

“I think our ability to roll more players in is helping us, particularly up front,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “Our defensive front, we can keep people fresh because we have a number of guys healthy, and they’re playing well enough that when they’re fresh, they can affect the offense, and that’s what happened in the latter part of this game.”

The Pokes forced four punts and a turnover on downs, then effectively ended the game with an interception by Tanner McCalister. 

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the final six Texas possessions:

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Oklahoma State defensive end Kody Walterscheid (96) and linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (20) tackle Texas quarterback Casey Thompson on Saturday in Austin.

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First possession starts at Texas’ 7-yard line, OSU trailing 24-13.

Plays: False start penalty for minus-3 yards; Robinson rush for 2; Thompson pass for 2; Thompson rush for minus-4; punt.

Key moment: On third down, Thompson fumbled as he turned for a possible handoff. OSU freshman Collin Oliver broke free and tackled Thompson for a loss. 

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Second possession starts at Texas’ 25-yard line, OSU trailing 24-16.

Plays: Robinson rush for 2; Thompson pass for 5; Thompson pass incomplete; punt.

Key moment: On third down, Thompson couldn’t handle a bad snap, which rolled a few yards behind him. With OSU defensive end Brock Martin in his face, Thompson heaved the ball downfield to avoid the sack. 

Texas was fortunate, because it appeared that with no receiver in the area, Thompson should have been flagged for intentional grounding. It was ruled that Thompson was outside the tackle box, and no flag was thrown. But replays showed that Thompson was still between the tackles when he threw the ball. 

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Third possession starts at Texas’ 19-yard line, OSU trailing 24-16.

Plays: Thompson pass incomplete; Robinson rush for 4; Thompson pass incomplete; punt.

Key moment: On first down, OSU linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez came unblocked on a delayed blitz and drilled Thompson with a clean but vicious hit in the ribcage. The pass was off target and Thompson had to leave the game for a play, being replaced by backup Hudson Card. 

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Fourth possession starts at Texas’ 31-yard line, OSU trailing 24-22.

Plays: Robinson rush for no gain; Robinson rush for minus-2; Thompson sacked for minus-4; punt.

Key moment: Once again on third down, Oliver got loose, making an inside move from the edge to Texas’ right guard and get to Thompson for his second sack of the game. 

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Fifth possession starts at Texas’ 35-yard line, OSU leading 25-24. 

Plays: Robinson rush for 9; Thompson pass complete for no gain; Thompson rush for minus-2; Thompson sacked for no gain, turnover on downs.

Key moments: On second-and-1, Thomas Harper bolted out of the OSU secondary and made a tackle on receiver Xavier Worthy at the line of scrimmage on a receiver screen pass that could have easily picked up the first down. 

On third-and-1, Martin entered the backfield unblocked, hit Robinson and knocked him into Thompson who was trying to run with the ball. 

On fourth-and-3 — a situation where OSU will often blitz — the Cowboys only rushed three players and dropped eight into coverage. Several were sitting at the line to gain, and crashed on Thompson when he tried to scramble. Martin and Israel Antwine combined for the sack. 

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Sixth possession starts at Texas’ 23-yard line, OSU leading 32-24.

Plays: Defensive offsides for 5 yards; Thompson pass intercepted.

Key moment: McCalister dipped back in coverage, leaving the short pass open, but providing help on the deeper throw, leaping to make the interception. The OSU offense ran out the clock to end the game.

OSU at Iowa State

KICKOFF: 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa (Fox)