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|11-16-2014, 12:50 AM||#1|
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Texas beats Oklahoma St, becomes bowl eligible
The Texas Longhorns have come a long way over the last three weeks.
After getting shut out 23-0 against then-No. 11 Kansas State on Oct. 25, they appeared to be a sinking ship that would never qualify to play in a bowl game, but they have rebounded in a big way.
Led by Tyrone Swoopes, who completed 24 of 33 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns, Texas dismantled Big 12 foe Oklahoma State 28-7 Saturday night for its third straight victory.
Texas (6-5, 5-3) became eligible to participate in a bowl game for fourth consecutive year and the 16th time in the last 17 seasons.
"It was a great team win," said Texas coach Charlie Strong. "In the locker room, they're just so happy. I said to the seniors I'm just so happy for them to get to a bowl game because a few weeks ago, nobody thought we would be here, everybody just wrote us off."
Johnathan Gray rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown for the Longhorns. Nick Rose connected on field goals of 34-, 44- and (a career-long) 51-yards.
The Texas defense limited the Cowboys to a season-low 192 total yards and forced them into three-and-outs on six of their first eight offensive possessions.
Oklahoma State (5-5, 3-4) lost its fourth in a row, all of them by at least 21 points.
"We spent a lot of time working on this game plan, so it's disappointing on many levels," said OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. "It's a tough time right now, but we've got to get through it and get ready for the next one."
With road games at No. 6 Baylor next week and rival Oklahoma Dec. 6, the Cowboys' chances of extending their school-record bowl streak to nine look slim.
"It's something that's come up here and there," acknowledged senior defensive tackle James Castleman of the bowl streak. "Right now, we don't want to win just one game, we want to win all the games. We can't think about bowl season because that's ahead of our game that we have coming up next."
James Washington scored on an 8-yard shovel pass with 9:02 remaining, allowing Oklahoma State to avoid the shutout.
"When you play with young players that lack experience, they're going to make mistakes and they're not going to look as good as you want them to," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said of his team that has a number of first-year starters at key positions. "They'll continue to get a little better, though, and they'll make some plays."
The Longhorns dominated in just about every aspect of the game, carrying a 22-0 lead into the fourth quarter, more than doubling the Cowboys in total offense, and nearly doubling them in time of possession. Texas converted seven of its first eight third-down situations and 11 of 19 overall, while holding Oklahoma State to just 2 of 13 on third down.
"That's really key; you have to win on third down," Strong said. "Just looking at it defensively, it's great that we just get stops and get pressure on the quarterback and turn them into sacks. We just knew how critical third down is."
Texas has now won 24 of 29 games in the all-time series between the schools, although Oklahoma State had won three of the previous four.
The Longhorns scored touchdowns on each of their first two possessions, while forcing OSU into two three-and-outs, to take a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter.
On 3rd-and-10 from the OSU 19-yard-line, Swoopes lofted a pass to the back right corner of the end zone that John Harris came down with for the first touchdown. A botched snap on the PAT left the Longhorns with an early 6-0 lead.
Texas began its next drive on its own 19 and Gray's 6-yard TD run gave the Longhorns a 13-0 lead - and 138 yards of total offense to OSU's total of -6 - with 2:33 left in the first quarter.
"It was a good start, there's no doubt about it," said Shawn Watson, Texas' assistant head coach for offense. "I thought Tyrone played exceptional tonight, he did some really good things, he handled a lot of things at the line of scrimmage, and a couple of times made some big throws throughout the whole evening."
Harris finished the day with nine receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown.
The Longhorns' other top receiver, Jaxon Shipley, left the game with an apparent hamstring injury late in the second quarter after making four receptions for 33 yards, and did not return.
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