ARLINGTON, Texas — The OSU offense wasn’t anything special, by Cowboy standards. The OSU kicking game was just short of disastrous. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston produced a series of big plays.
And not until the final seconds was Cowboy defeat assured against Florida State in a college football showdown opener that was called the Cowboys Classic and dang near was exactly that. The Seminoles beat OSU 37-31 in a gridiron fistfight Saturday that left the Cowboys dejected about the night but should leave them euphoric about the future.
Rebuilding year? The top-ranked Seminoles want no part of Oklahoma State football if this is considered the inferior version.
“They played their tails off,” Winston said.
An OSU squad missing 37 players from 2013’s Cotton Bowl team showed that 2014 does not have to be a dip. The Cowboys stood toe-to-toe with the Seminoles and didn’t back down.
“You don’t ever know what to expect with so many young players on the field, but there was never any fear in their eyes,” Mike Gundy said. “They played hard. They made mistakes, but they made mistakes going full speed. That’s the future of your program. They didn’t have the deer-in-the-headlights look at all.”
Especially on defense. You thought offense would have to carry the Cowboys this season. At least early. But Saturday night, OSU’s defense stood tall. Florida State had 14 possessions and produced just three touchdowns and three field goals. The Seminoles were the nation’s best offense in 2013 and might be again, with Winston.
But Seth Jacobs and Ashton Lampkin came up with interceptions off Winston, OSU’s defense made Florida State punt five times and the Cowboys took the 18-point-favorite Seminoles to the brink.
No coach wants to claim a moral victory, and OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer didn’t. But he should. These Cowboys will have no greater test this season, and in their maiden voyage with seven new starters, played hard and well. Linebackers Jacobs, Ryan Simmons and Josh Furman didn’t come off the field. Cornerbacks Kevin Peterson and Lampkin missed only a play or two. The Cowboys were dragging by game’s end. Dragging, but still fighting.
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