LUBBOCK, Texas — A fourth-down play inside the 5 run with Clint Chelf lined up under center, then rolling to his right and tossing a touchdown pass to H-back Jeremy Seaton.
A third-and-9 quarterback draw that Chelf took 67 yards to the house.
Zac Veatch regularly lining up at tight end, and Josh Stewart occasionally doing his best Tavon-Austin-against-Oklahoma impression and motioning into the backfield to take a direct handoff.
Welcome to the new-look Oklahoma State offense. It’s not exactly the spread-it-out, sling-it-around Air Raid system. But it’s an attack that unexpectedly exploded in the No. 18 Cowboys’ biggest game so far, blowing past No. 15 Texas Tech 52-34 Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium to keep OSU firmly in the Big 12 title chase.
Yes, there were new wrinkles. But the OSU offense also found real balance.
“It takes the pressure off (the quarterback),” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “On second-and-long, you can still run the ball. It alleviates the pressure on the offensive line, as well.”
OSU (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) running backs Desmond Roland, Rennie Childs and Jeremy Smith continuously hit holes and broke tackles, combining for 194 yards and three scores.
And then there was Chelf, who finished with 211 passing yards and two touchdowns and 88 rushing yards and a pair of scores. He threw two ill-advised interceptions, but also displayed much better accuracy and brought a downfield passing threat the Cowboys’ lacked when J.W Walsh was the starter.
The Cowboys were set up with good field position early, thanks to a fumble by Jace Amaro that put OSU at the Red Raider 45 and a blocked punt by walk-on Derek Branson that put the Cowboys at the Tech 15. But the Cowboys also built a 21-0 lead by marching 84 yards down the field on their first touchdown drive, which was capped by a beautifully thrown fade pass from Chelf to Tracy Moore in the right corner of the end zone.
And whenever Tech attempted to rally back, OSU had the answer.
After the Red Raiders cut the Cowboys’ halftime lead to 28-24, OSU created distance on their second drive out of the locker room. Following a 46-yard punt return by Stewart, OSU converted its second fourth down inside the 5 into a touchdown, with Roland getting into the end zone from three yards out. Then came Chelf’s 67-yard sprint through the middle of the Red Raider defense on the Cowboys’ next possession.
Then when Tech turned a Chelf interception into an Amaro one-yard touchdown that trimmed the gap to 42-31 late in the third quarter, OSU put together a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by an eight-yard touchdown run by Chelf to essentially put the game out of reach.
It’s taken us more than half the season to get to this point. OSU’s offense has been disjointed much of the season, with multiple examples of in-game quarterback switches, offensive line shuffles and stuffed running backs.
But last week against Iowa State, the running game appeared to turn a corner, with Roland busting out for 219 yards and four scores behind an offensive line combination that began to gel. Saturday, a passing game was added to the mix, with Chelf going the distance in a game where coach Mike Gundy said Walsh could also play.
Just in time for the start of the key home stretch for the Cowboys.
“We’ve got a chance,” Gundy said. “We’re not good enough to look past the next game.”