STILLWATER – The Cowboy offense was backed up on its own 1-yard line, early in the game Saturday night. You remember. Back when America still thought Baylor was a force to be reckoned with.
And the coaching Mikes, Gundy and Yurcich, turned to Clint Chelf.
The OSU quarterback fired a 28-yard strike to Charlie Moore on the sideline, and suddenly, OSU was out of the shadow of Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Soon enough, the Cowboys were out of the shadow of Baylor. And Chelf was out of the shadow of his own limitations.
OSU routed Baylor 49-17 at Boone Pickens Stadium, a stunning verdict in a top-10 showdown, and Chelf was superb.
That completion to Moore ignited a 99-yard touchdown drive. Chelf directed six TD drives in all.
He completed his first 12 passes Saturday night, finishing 19 of 25 for a career high 370 yards and three touchdowns.
Chelf beat Texas with his legs a week ago but beat Baylor with his arm. That's two Big 12 unbeatens taken down in back-to-back weeks by the guy who often is down but never is out.
“He's been good the last few games in what we've asked him to do,” Gundy said. “We didn't feel we had as much of an advantage with him running the ball this game. But he was real effective throwing the ball.
“I couldn't be more proud of what he's accomplished. He's been a good leader. He's been humble.
“I'm happy with the groove he's in. We just want to let him keep going.”
Some of us called for a return to J.W. Walsh a few weeks ago, when Chelf was throwing balls into the feet of receivers and looked nothing like the quarterback with the magic dust from 2012, when Chelf went from third-teamer to bowl MVP.
Good thing Gundy didn't listen. In the biggest game of a college football Saturday, Chelf completely outplayed Bryce Petty.
The Baylor quarterback came into the game garnering Heisman Trophy support. Now Petty's status as the all-Big 12 quarterback is in question.
Chelf was that good.
The Cowboy running game wasn't great, yet Chelf continually dug out of long-yardage situations to control the game.
A crossing pattern to Josh Stewart for 18 yards on second-and-19, setting an OSU touchdown.
A crossing pattern to Tracy Moore for 19 yards on second-and-21.
A deep fade to Charlie Moore for 27 yards on third-and-10, keeping alive a drive that led to a TD.
A deep ball to Jhajuan Seales for a 33-yard touchdown on third-and-14, capping the blowout.
Chelf's throws were stunningly on target. Quite the performance for a guy who was quite inaccurate earlier in the season.
“Clint was amazing,” said Tracy Moore. “He was running, throwing and even making a catch. There's not much that kid can't do.”
Chelf's progress mirrors OSU's. Chelf looked like a mediocre quarterback a few weeks ago. The Cowboys looked like a mediocre team.
Now Chelf is making the case for all-conference, and OSU is zooming up the BCS rankings, figuring to be sixth or seventh on Sunday.
“Things happen,” Gundy said. “One thing we tell our players is, after a play, after a practice, after a game, there hasn't been anybody able to go back and correct it or fix it. Life's about moving on.”
Chelf and the Cowboys have moved not only on, but up. And now they're in position to win the Big 12 championship, with a quarterback who is playing like the best in the league.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.