RUSH, HEDGEPETH OUT FOR SEASON
The win at Texas A&M came at a cost. Starting guard Jonathan Rush and backup cornerback Devin Hedgepeth were both lost to season-ending injuries.
Rush suffered a left knee injury, while Hedgepeth ruptured an Achilles tendon.
“That's a blow,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said.
The loss of Hedgepeth, who played significant minutes, enhances Andrae May's role, with Larry Stephens likely to move up as the fourth corner.
Nick Martinez slid over and Parker Graham moved up to fill Rush's spot.
OSU's line depth proved helpful in other areas, too. When center Grant Garner went out briefly, Casey LaBrue stepped in and played well.
“The center got cramped and hurt his ankle, then we put in a guy who has been a darn walk-on and been around for two or three years, Casey LaBrue,” said OSU offensive line coach Joe Wickline. “Now he's on scholarship. And he earned his keep a little bit.”
FINAL PLAY NOT IN THE PLAYBOOK
Facing fourth-and-26 Saturday from their own 39 with five seconds to play, the Cowboys opted not to punt.
They opted to run out the clock, with Justin Blackmon running 39 yards out of the end zone for a safety.
“That's the first time I've ever been told to run backwards,” said Blackmon. “They told me to run out the back of the end zone when the clock hit zero.”
So now Blackmon, to go with his many prominent receiving records, has what is likely the record for longest single play rushing loss.
“That's nice,” he said with a smile.
And Blackmon will take it, happily.
“I'll take all the glory for it,” Blackmon said.
Not that he knew it was coming. The call won't be found in the OSU playbook.
“No practice,” Blackmon said. “It was right there on the spot. I didn't ask to do it or anything, it just happened.”
Gundy cracked that the final snap was going to one of two players: “Either (Brandon) Weeden or Blackmon.”
Uh, for 39 yards, Blackmon is the guy.
And it was simple, really. Catch the ball, run the wrong way, but don't cross the end line until time had expired.
“I watched the clock,” on the video board, Blackmon said.
REALIGNMENT TALK DIDN'T GO UNNOTICED
At one point this week, the Cowboys seemed to be headed for the Pac-12. Gundy even talked about recruiting California.
Then the Big 12 was resuscitated – again – keeping the Cowboys in the Midwest, for now. And after the game Saturday, Gundy admitted the chatter was unavoidable.
“It was more noticeable this week, because you just can't go anywhere without people talking about it,” Gundy said. “In the office, jogging on campus, at the bagel shop, that's what everybody talks about, so you can't run away from it.
“But we're in our own world. We go to work in the morning and go home at night and we don't pay attention to anything else. I think everybody knows how I feel. I don't know why the Big 12 needs to sacrifice. I think we need to stand tall and keep this thing together, and I've said that. Other than that, we're just going to keep rolling and go wherever they send us.”
When victory was secured Saturday at Kyle Field, OSU fans clustered in a corner of the end zone chanted “Big 12, Big 12…” taking one final shot at the SEC-bound Aggies.
“I'm sure the fans, people in chat rooms, they'll probably be all over that,” Gundy said. “I hope A&M stays in our league. I hope the Big 12 stays strong.”
OSU INCREASES TEMPO
The Cowboy offense played more quickly in the second half. OSU's three touchdown drives in the third quarter were 11 plays, 80 yards in 2:36; 10 plays, 89 yards in 2:32; and nine plays, 56 yards in 3:24.
“They did a great job of changing the tempo up in the second half, not unlike they did last year,” said A&M coach Mike Sherman, referring to OSU's 38-35 comeback victory. “They had us playing on our heels, then run quick screens before we could get lined up.”
Cornerback Justin Gilbert had a huge game, with a career high nine tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Gilbert also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the first half, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty.
Trying to run out the clock with little more than two minutes left, Weeden threw a rollout pass to seldom-used tight end Justin Horton.
“I was shocked at that call,” Weeden said. “But it was a good call.”
And symbolic of a game in which Weeden completed passes to 11 receivers.
“I've got so much confidence in the guys,” Weeden said. “It takes a lot of pressure off (Justin) Blackmon. Lot of pressure off me. That's tough on a defense.”
The Aggies played without cornerback Coryell Judie, who missed the game with a hamstring injury.
QB COMMITS GETS STARTED – STRONG
Cowboys quarterback commitment Wes Lunt missed the first four games of his season with a broken foot.
Back in action Friday night, Lunt was back in business.
The Rochester, Ill., standout threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns – in the first half – leading a 57-12 romp. His offense scored on all seven first-half possessions. And one half was enough, as he did not return, due to blowout, not re-injury.
According to his coach Derek Leonard, Lunt has even more to offer.
“He was a little rusty,” Leonard said, “but he was good.”