AUSTIN, Texas — For one splendid series Saturday, Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon looked like their old selves, playing pitch-and-catch with the best of them.
Four connections, for 57 yards on 63-yard touchdown drive that gave Oklahoma State a second-quarter lead. Vintage Cowboys.
Otherwise, Texas corralled Blackmon and frustrated Weeden. Blackmon had just three other catches for 17 yards. Weeden threw for just 155 yards outside that drive, finishing with a career low 218.
And still, sixth-ranked OSU beat the Longhorns, 38-26 at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Yes, the Cowboys have some great ballplayers. But they've also got a bunch of really good ballplayers. We've been saying it and saying it, but Saturday the Cowboys proved it.
Backup tailback Jeremy Smith ran for two huge touchdowns. Josh Cooper made a sensational catch to set up OSU's first touchdown.
Cowboy linemen, rarely considered studs, won the trenches. Defensive tackle Nigel Nicholas and d-end Jamie Blatnick played the game of their lives, each with four tackles for loss.
Caleb Lavey, James Thomas, Daytawion Lowe and Cooper Bassett produced OSU's three takeaways. Wilson Youman got a late sack that helped seal the game.
Name me the all-star on that list.
“I'm very happy with the guys,” said Weeden, who sometimes talks like a coach. “It's a testament to where the program's headed.”
Immediately, the program is headed high up the BCS rankings, which will be released Sunday, presumably with OSU in at No. 4, just behind the monsters Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma.
To beat the Sooners in December and LSU or Bama in January, the Cowboys will need the Weeden/Blackmon combo clicking, plus all the help they received Saturday. But winning at Texas for the second straight year with some blanks in Pete's Pistol is no small deal.
In-state, where bloodthirst for Bevo is high and we saw up close how vulnerable are the Longhorns, a 12-point win is disappointing. But nationally, winning comfortably at 22nd-ranked Texas will carry weight. Even if it wasn't OSU's best shot.
“I thought we played good, not great,” Mike Gundy said. “It's not easy winning down here. No matter what anybody says … they haven't given up the game down here. They can still make some plays.”
But so can the Cowboys, even beyond Weeden and Blackmon. Starting with Smith, who not so long ago was OSU's short-yarage tailback. Now he's become its home run hitter. His last four touchdowns have come on double-digit yardage plays, including runs of 30 and 74 yards.
The first came on a 4th-and-1 play and capped a late drive that gave OSU a 21-10 halftime lead. The latter came in the third quarter and made it 38-24. Both were made possible by gaping holes; Smith was untouched on both.
“I said this to the team yesterday,” Gundy said. “We may be getting close enough so that everybody can relax and just go play. So many years, we relied on two or three guys making all the plays, and if they didn't play well enough, you'll get beat.”
That's not these Cowboys. They didn't play perfect. Kicking-game foulups. Too many Texas yards on the corner. Too many dropped passes.
But style points aren't in vogue when playing at Texas.
“I don't think we played great,” Weeden said. “If we can play like that and still come out with a win in this environment … this is sweet.
“We finished. That's the main thing. We finished the game out on the road in a tough environment. I'm really proud of the guys. This is not an easy place to play.”
But it is a special place to win, even in this post-Colt McCoy era of the Longhorns, especially when Texas makes Weeden look like something less than the greatest quarterback in OSU history and Blackmon look like something less than college football's best receiver.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.