OSU's shaky first half was wiped out by an historically-great third quarter. Defense went from pushed around to pushing around, while the offense went from not scoring to scoring in bunches. So the grades are high, which they should be for a road win against a top-10 foe.
BRANDON WEEDEN: A
In the first half, Weeden seemed to be losing the battle of wits with A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. His numbers were OK (17-of-23, 158 yards), but OSU had just three points. But Weeden was spectacular in the third quarter, when the Cowboys mounted their comeback. In that period alone, Weeden completed 22 of 27 passes for 230 yards.
Wow. Gray helmets, white jerseys with orange trim, gray pants with orange and black trim. Stunning. The Cowboys looked like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Maybe OSU's gray isn't a match for the Bucs' pewter, but close enough. Fabulous look.
DEFENSIVE AGGRESSIVENESS: A
Coordinator Bill Young preaches takeaways. He got them in bunches, including three straight A&M possessions in the third quarter: Daytawion Lowe's hit on receiver Kenric McNeal produced a fumble recovered by Justin Gilbert, Brodrick Brown wrestled the ball away from all-star receiver Jeff Fuller for an interception and Gilbert intercepted a pass after James Thomas pressured quarterback Tannehill. The Cowboys secured the game when Brown tipped a late pass and Thomas intercepted.
OFFENSIVE AGGRESSIVENESS: B
Coordinator Todd Monken took off the reins in the second half, and the Cowboys dominated. But in the first half, OSU tried to establish the run. The Cowboys ran the ball on 3rd-and-11 and 2nd-and-20.
FAN LOYALTY: A
After James Thomas' interception with 1:31 left in the game, the hearty OSU band in the corner of Kyle Field started chanting “Big 12! Big 12!” Against a foe leaving the conference for the SEC, and after a week of intrigue over whether OSU would flee to the Pac-12, OSU fans planted a quality seed for Big 12 healing.
CONTAINING TANNEHILL: B
The Cowboys let A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill run loose most of the first half, including a 65-yard TD run off the shotgun option four plays into the game. Tannehill also completed several passes after scrambling. But OSU's defense got after Tannehill in the second half, with a better pass rush and containment. The Cowboys finished with two sacks and four turnovers, two of which were pass-rush induced interceptions.
Penalties and nonsense hurt the Cowboys all game long. OSU finished with 11 penalties, including five major violations. A chop block, a face mask, unnecessary roughness, excessive celebration and holding on a kickoff return that wiped out Justin Gilbert's touchdown. Plus, Justin Blackmon fumbled the ball at the 2-yard line going untouched into the end zone, and the ball went out of bounds for a touchback.
SHARING THE WEALTH: A
Never before in OSU history had more than one receiver had at least 10 catches. Saturday, the Cowboys had three – Josh Cooper and Blackmon 11 each, and Hubert Anyiam 10. Plus, Weeden threw to seldom-used tight end Justin Horton with barely two minutes left in the game and OSU trying to run out the clock.
RUN DEFENSE: B
The Aggies ran for 147 yards in the first half; Tannehill had the 65-yard TD run and tailbacks Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray averaged 6.2 yards a carry. But in the second half, A&M had just 15 yards rushing. Gray and Michael combined for 10 yards on five carries.