COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Mike Gundy and Brandon Weeden said the Oklahoma State football team did not act like a group that was down 17 points when it met in the locker room at halftime against Texas A&M.
It didn't act like a team that could not sustain any offensive consistency and at one point faced a third-and-43 situation. Or one that had allowed the Aggies to rack up 301 yards in the first 30 minutes.
The Cowboys talked about that they had been here before — against A&M a year ago. They talked about execution and limiting penalties.
“I went around to each one of them and gave them my opinion of what happened, and they agreed,” Gundy said. “We talked about adversity. Your true colors are going to show when bad things happen.”
But on the first drive of the second half, they turned that talk into action.
When Jeremy Smith shot 13 yards up the middle of the Aggie defense and into the end zone, it started an offensive outburst that propelled the No. 7 Cowboys to a 30-29 victory against the No. 8 Aggies on Saturday afternoon at Kyle Field.
“Once we did go down and punch it in, you could just feel the difference on the sideline,” Weeden said. “We got some momentum. We got some spark back, got our jazz level up a little bit. That was huge.
“The first possession of the second half was the biggest possession, I felt like, of the entire game.”
The Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) outscored Texas A&M 21-0 in the third quarter to seize the lead for good and capture its fourth consecutive win over the Aggies.
That first drive set the tone.
The Cowboys were their up-tempo selves, covering 80 yards in just 2:36. Weeden completed five passes to three different receivers, highlighted by a nifty 28-yard catch and run down the sideline by Josh Stewart. Joseph Randle and Smith both made an impact on the ground.
“We called it,” Randle said. “We felt like we were going to go out and make a play and score. It went just like we planned it. Great players made plays. Weeden was amazing, and our offensive line fought through a lot of adversity and they made plays.”
Once that first touchdown was on the board, the Cowboys kept rolling.
Weeden connected on five consecutive passes on OSU's next drive — including an 11-yard touchdown strike to Justin Blackmon in the corner of the end zone that needed replay to overturn an official's ruling that the pass was incomplete. OSU then turned a fumble by A&M receiver Kenric McNeal into a 56-yard touchdown drive, capped by a four-yard touchdown strike from Weeden to Tracy Moore.
By the time the clock turned to the fourth quarter, OSU suddenly had a 24-20 lead.
And that was with another sure touchdown coming off the board because of a Blackmon fumble at the two-yard line that went out of the end zone for a touchback.
Weeden set school records for completions (47) and attempts (60) for the second time in three weeks and also grabbed the record passing yards in a game (438). Of those 438 yards, 230 came in the third quarter alone.
Two Quinn Sharp field goals in the fourth quarter and a key interception by James Thomas in the final two minutes gave OSU enough cushion to hold on for one of the biggest wins in program history. Gundy is now 2-7 against top 10 teams, with the other victory coming at then-No. 3 Missouri in 2008.
OSU's surge in the second half came after its worst 30 minutes of offense this season.
The Cowboys started two possessions inside their own 10 yard line and were plagued by an array of penalties and three sacks that stalled that stalled drives. After a successful opening drive ended in a 27-yard field goal by Sharp, OSU did not score again in the half.
But Gundy believed the mistakes were correctable. And his players showed him that in the third quarter.
“It takes a lot to be able to come back against a good team on the road at this place,” Gundy said. “You don't do that overnight. Three or four years ago, when we were in that situation, guys didn't look the same in their faces in the locker room.
“It takes time to develop something like that. You've got to win and they've got to prove to themselves they can do it.”