The Cowboys lost their second-straight game of the season – this time it was the regular-season finale to Baylor in Waco, 41-34.
QUARTERBACK: Falling (+2)
After an inspiring Bedlam performance, quarterback Clint Chelf had less than a memorable return against Baylor: 30-51 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Chelf wasn’t terrible on Saturday, but his biggest mistake was a costly one. Midway through the first quarter, with the game tied 3-3, Chelf’s pass to Josh Stewart into the wind was picked off by Baylor’s Eddie Lackey and returned for a touchdown. It swung momentum and the Cowboys were unable to recover. Chelf should start for the bowl game, but it might be time to reopen competition for the starting job soon after.
GROUND GAME: Rising (+5)
Without question, Joseph Randle is the Cowboys’ most valuable player this season. He hit the 100-yard rushing mark for the eighth time this season: 23 carries for 139 yards. No touchdowns for Randle, but that doesn’t mean OSU wasn’t able to punch it in on the ground. J.W. Walsh continued to find success in the Cowboys’ run package, recording two touchdowns on the ground. Jeremy Smith continued his limited role after rehabbing from an injury: 5 carries for 28 yards. But Randle is the real story here. There’s a good chance the bowl game will be his last playing for OSU.
AIR GAME: Falling (+1)
The Cowboys win and lose as a team, but the OSU receiving corps sure didn’t help on Saturday. Blake Jackson dropped two sure-fire touchdown passes – the story of his entire season. Josh Stewart was his regular self against Baylor as well, both good and bad. The good: a game high 12 receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown. The bad: he had another tipped ball that resulted in an interception. It seems like nearly every Chelf pick this season has touched Stewart’s hands first.
FRONT SEVEN: Falling (+3)
Lache Seastrunk was nothing short of incredible on Saturday: 16 carries, 178 yards and one touchdown. His shining moment was a 76-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. With 20 yards left on the touchdown scamper, he seized up a bit with a quadriceps cramp, but was still able to outrun Cowboy defenders for the score. And as far as pass rush was concerned, OSU supplied little to none, allowing quarterback Nick Florence all day to throw while recording no sacks.
SECONDARY: Falling (0)
Another game, another weak performance highlighted by soft coverage and missed opportunities by the OSU secondary. Yes, Brodrick Brown was sidelined much of the game with an undisclosed injury, but it most likely wouldn’t have mattered. Nick Florence was excellent: 23-39 for 296 yards and one touchdown. He should have had at least one interception, when cornerback Justin Gilbert dropped an easy interception opportunity. Not much else to say here. Another bad week for this unit.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Even (+1)
The Cowboys blocked a field goal and Quinn Sharp made both of his field goal attempts, but the Cowboys’ coverage team continued its struggles after giving up a kick return for a touchdown against OU the week before. Darius Jones returned a kickoff 73 yards for a near score. After an up-and-down season, specials teams holds pat this week.
OVERALL: Falling (+1)
One important thing to remember: Baylor was one of the hottest teams in the nation entering Saturday’s game after knocking off then No. 1 Kansas State two week prior. But still, the Cowboys were favorites on Saturday for good reason. But after digging a hole early, the Cowboys weren’t able to keep up with Baylor’s high-scoring offense. And the OSU defense failed to step up when the team needed it most. Fans can complain all they want about the Cowboys falling to the Heart of Texas Bowl, but they needed to win this game to secure a better bowl, and they didn’t. See you in Texas for New Year’s.