WACO, Texas — Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders made more than a few important plays in the ninth-ranked Cowboys’ 36-25 win over No. 16 Baylor on Saturday at McLane Stadium.
Huge throws. Dazzling runs.
But his biggest moment might’ve come when the redshirt senior should’ve been in observation mode on a run play by true freshman Ollie Gordon.
But when Baylor defender Christian Morgan’s helmet drilled into Gordon’s left side, it popped the ball back in Sanders’ direction.
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The quarterback dove in head first to secure the ball. Two plays later, the Cowboys kicked a field goal for a two-score advantage, 36-25.
With a chaotic start to the Big 12 season, Saturday’s win was a strong early statement for an OSU team that has hopes of getting back to the Big 12 title game again this season.
Sanders finished with 181 passing yards and 75 rushing yards, and two total touchdowns.
Junior running back Dominic Richardson didn’t post eye-popping stats, but his tough running — particularly between the tackles, where Baylor’s defense is strongest — was critical.
Richardson finished with 73 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown.
Here are four more takeaways from the Cowboys’ victory:
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Pick party for Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State hadn’t intercepted a pass since the first game of the season, but a pair of senior safeties came up with fourth-quarter interceptions to help put the game away.
Thomas Harper picked off a pass near midfield and returned it to the Baylor 28, setting up a Cowboy field goal for the 36-25 lead.
On Baylor’s next drive, with the Bears moving down the field, Jason Taylor II stepped in front of a deep throw by quarterback Blake Shapen. Taylor pulled in the pass and barely got a foot down as his momentum carried him out of bounds with 2:55 to play.
The Cowboys milked most of the clock and force Baylor to use all of its timeouts on the ensuing drive.
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Bryson Green’s concentration
Sophomore receiver Bryson Green had two crucial receptions, one that went for a touchdown and another that set up a field goal.
On OSU’s first drive of the game, Green got a step ahead of his man on a third-and-4 play from the Baylor 8. He leapt for the pass from OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders, bobbled it at first, but pulled it in before landing in the end zone for the score.
In the third quarter, OSU ran a trick play with slot receiver John Paul Richardson taking the ball on a reverse, then setting up to throw deep. He lofted the ball behind a wide-open Green, who adjusted and pulled in the throw, getting his left foot inbounds just before his right knee hit out of bounds at the 2-yard line.
OSU couldn’t punch it into the end zone, but kicked a field goal for a 30-17 lead.
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Oklahoma State’s special teams units came up with multiple key plays on Saturday.
Facing a fourth-and-4 at the Baylor 39, OSU elected to punt rather than go for it in opposing territory.
Punter Tom Hutton sent a punt toward the right corner of the field, where true freshman receiver Braylin Presley was waiting, catching the ball to down it at the 2.
On the next snap, Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen tossed to Richard Reese, who was forced deep into the end zone by defensive end Brock Martin, setting up a tackle by Kendal Daniels for a safety and a 9-3 lead.
The Cowboy special teams came up with another huge play to start the third quarter. Redshirt freshman running back Jaden Nixon took the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and a 23-3 lead. Nixon slipped through a gap in the middle of the field, got tripped up but kept his footing, then outran the Bears to the end zone.
It was the Cowboys’ third defensive touchdown in the last two games.
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Mason Cobb’s key tackle
Coming into the game, Baylor was tied for seventh nationally in total fourth-down attempts with 11 through four games. The Bears had converted seven of them.
With the Cowboys leading 9-3 in the second quarter, Baylor had driven inside the OSU 10 before finding itself in a fourth-and-1 at the 7.
Running left, it looked like Reese had open field for the first down and maybe a touchdown. But OSU linebacker Mason Cobb slipped off a block and tackled Reese for no gain and a turnover on downs.
Oklahoma State vs. Baylor live updates
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism