STILLWATER – The Cowboys would have liked this game placed in Wes Lunt's hands, but J.W. Walsh passed the frying pan test.
Passed it just fine.
Oklahoma State's defense? Not so much.
Texas beat the Cowboys 41-36 Saturday in a Big 12 shootout that showed OSU is going to have to win scoreathons this conference season. Can't rely on the defense for much help.
The 12th-ranked Longhorns scored touchdowns on their final two possessions, first gashing the Cowboys on the ground, then piercing the Cowboys with the pass.
Joe Bergeron's disputed two-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds left won it for Texas; Bergeron fumbled, but officials ruled he already had crossed the goal line.
“They just happened to make the play when the clock went out,” Mike Gundy said.
What he meant by that was, last team with the ball and any appreciable time, wins.
Heck, OSU's offense scared Texas even in the final seconds, with last-play lateral-dazzle that went 41 yards before Charlie Moore was stopped.
Thus OSU wasted what would have been a monumental victory: a third straight win over the Longhorns, only this time with a backup quarterback.
Walsh, playing for the injured Lunt, made enough plays with his arm and eventually his feet to keep the Cowboy offense humming.
OSU got exactly what it needed: a strong running game that relieved pressure from the redshirt freshman QB.
Put the cannon-armed Lunt with this OSU running game, and the ‘Horns would have gone home losers, though to be fair, UT played without defensive starters Jordan Hicks (linebacker) and Desmond Jackson (tackle).
But even with a good chunk of OSU's passing game put in mothballs, Walsh was effective.
The Cowboys scored every time they had the ball in the second half, except the desperation possession after Bergeron's touchdown.
“I'm very proud of our football team,” Gundy said. “Proud of the way they competed.
“I thought J.W. played very well. Did he make some mistakes? Yes. Was he confused at times? Yes. That's a pretty good defensive football team. He handled himself pretty well.”
Alas, the OSU defense didn't. I know, this is the Big 12, where 70-63 finals can happen.
But despite the clear improvement of Texas quarterback David Ash, he's not Geno Smith. The Longhorns are much better but are not an offensive juggernaut.
And OSU's defense wasn't up to the task. The Cowboys had given up touchdowns on Texas' first two possessions of the game, both via big pass plays.
Bill Young seemed jinxed; three times he called a blitz that was countered by a screen pass for a big gainer.
Eventually, the Cowboy defense stabilized. And then it wilted.
The game came down to one play: UT down 36-34, facing 4th-and-6 on its 29-yard line and less than two minutes left.
That's where clutch is determined. OSU's defense didn't have the gene. Ash did.
Ash hit tight end D.J. Grant on a short crossing pattern, Grant evaded defender Joe Mitchell and suddenly the ‘Horns had a 29-yard gain. Two plays later, Ash hit Mike Davis for a 32-yard gain against cornerback Justin Gilbert, and Texas could name its time to score.
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 FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.