WACO, Texas — Clint Chelf floated the ball toward the right corner of the end zone, just needing it to fall into the awaiting hands of Blake Jackson for Oklahoma State to cap a methodical and successful opening drive with a touchdown.
Two plays later, the Cowboys settled for a Quinn Sharp field goal, offering a sign of things to come.
In an expected shootout with Baylor, complete with the greatest over/under in Las Vegas sports betting history, OSU’s offense could not keep pace with the Bears early and ultimately did not have enough firepower in a 41-34 loss Saturday afternoon at Floyd Casey Stadium in the Cowboys’ regular-season finale.
“Everybody knows what (Baylor’s) done on offense,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “And they’ve done it for 11 games (entering Saturday), so it’s not a surprise. You feel like you have to press a little more, not when the game starts, but certainly when we fell behind.”
Choppy, sputtering and inconsistent were popular adjectives thrown around by coaches and players to describe the Cowboy offense’s performance against a Baylor defense that is statistically one of the worst in the nation.
OSU nearly matched Baylor, which entered Saturday ranked second in the nation, in yards amassed with 560. But the Cowboys failed to gain any steady traction and missed on several key opportunities, particularly in the first half.
Sharp kicked a pair of field goals on two drives that featured dropped touchdown passes by Jackson.
The Cowboys punted twice in the first quarter, which helped Baylor build an early 24-3 lead it would never let slip away.
And Chelf tossed two interceptions, including a critical pick-six in the first quarter that gave the Bears points without its explosive offense even on the field.
“All of a sudden, you look up and say, ‘Holy … what just happened?’” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “They’re a very good offensive team, very well-coached, and when you play that kind of team, you’ve got to do a better job of scoring.”
Added Chelf: “The offense dug ourselves a hole early, and just weren’t able to get out of it.”
Any hope the Cowboys had of getting back in the game were dashed in the fourth quarter when Baylor’s Lache Seatrunk ran through the middle of OSU’s defense for a 76-yard touchdown to make the score 41-27. The Cowboys offense stalled out at midfield on the next drive after a couple of first downs courtesy of Baylor penalties.
Monken took the blame for the spotty showing, saying he “made more mistakes than anybody” with his play calls.
“We had moments we looked like, ‘Boy we really know what we’re doing,’ and there are times where we were just really choppy,” he said.
OSU will still finish the season ranked extremely high nationally in virtually every offensive category.
That can still be regarded as a huge accomplishment in a season where the Cowboys needed three starting quarterbacks and battled through a barrage of injuries at several skill positions, most notably a season-ender to top returning receiver Tracy Moore. And a month of bowl practice will only allow those young playmakers to continue to grow and develop.
But Monken admits Saturday’s inconsistent offensive performance was probably a carryover from the final period of OSU’s Bedlam heartbreaker a week ago. And over the last five quarters, that production hasn’t reached the standard he wants.
“Pretty good, but not good enough,” he said.