AUSTIN, Texas — OSU's performance wasn't pristine. The passing game was not in high gear and the kicking game was suspect. But the Cowboys did enough things right to win comfortably in a tough environment.
DEFENDING BOISE STATE: B
The longer the game went on, the more Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin went to his Boise State gimmicks. Lots of wildcat formation, with the ball snapped directly to tailback Fozzy Whittaker. Several reverses. And a statue of liberty play in which tailback Malcolm Brown scored on a 24-yard run. But the Cowboy defense played disciplined and weren't harmed too much by the gimmicks.
Mike Gundy lamented what he counted as five dropped passes, which helped stifle the OSU passing game. But the Cowboys also took early command thanks to two excellent catches. Middle linebacker Caleb Lavey intercepted David Ash's pass by tipping the ball, which was thrown behind Lavey, before spearing it. That set up a touchdown drive which was highlighted by Josh Cooper's leaping, diving catch to the Texas 1-yard line.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A
Brandon Weeden was sacked just once, and that on a safety in which he stepped out of the back of the end zone. And the Cowboy running game was spectacular, with tailbacks Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle combining for 208 yards on 24 carries.
Solid, with black helmets, white jerseys, orange numbers and black pants with orange stripes. The black helmet on an 87-degree day wasn't the best way to stay cool, but a good look. Think Texas Tech, only replacing the red with orange.
KICKING TEAMS: C
OSU usually wins the kicking game. Not Saturday. After Justin Gilbert's 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half, the Cowboys allowed Fozzy Whittaker to answer with a 100-yard kickoff return. Whittaker averaged 30.4 yards per return on his other five kickoff returns, too. Plus, a Texas punt bounced off Andrae May while he was blocking, allowing the Longhorns to recover on the OSU 15-yard line.
Kudos to equipment manager Wes Edwards and his staff. The Cowboys showed no signs of sloppy footing on the Royal-Memorial Stadium turf. Meanwhile Texas quarterback David Ash was slipping all game.
SHORT-YARDAGE OFFENSE: C
The Cowboys faced four plays on third or fourth down needing two yards or less. They converted just one. But the one was big; Jeremy Smith's 30-yard touchdown run late in the first half, on 4th-and-1.
DEEP PASSING GAME: D
Weeden four times threw deep to Justin Blackmon. All were incomplete. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken lamented the missed opportunities, considering how often Texas covered Blackmon one-on-one.
PASS RUSH: A
The Cowboys got after Ash, a freshman, with five quarterback sacks. Twice that many times OSU flushed Ash from the pocket and mostly contained his scrambling. Defensive coordinator Bill Young got pressure with both blitzes and his front four. End Jamie Blatnick and safety Daytawion Lowe each had two sacks.
BALL SECURITY: A
The Cowboys' only turnover came on a flukish punt play. Meanwhile, OSU produced three takeaways, and while linebacker James Thomas' late interception was irrelevant, Caleb Lavey's first-quarter interception and Cooper Bassett's fourth-quarter recovery of Ash's fumble (courtesy of Lowe) were huge.