Analyzing Oklahoma State’s Gutsy Fourth-Down Play Calls From Their Upset of Texas

    Fueled by 31 first-half points, unranked Oklahoma State was responsible for the biggest win of Week 9 as the Cowboys upset No. 6 Texas 38-35 in

    October 28, 2018

    Fueled by 31 first-half points, unranked Oklahoma State was responsible for the biggest win of Week 9 as the Cowboys upset No. 6 Texas 38-35 in Stillwater.

    Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, quarterback Taylor Cornelius and the Cowboys’ offense laid the foundation for their upset with a pair of gutsy fourth-down play calls that resulted in touchdowns in the first half.

    The two teams traded touchdowns on the first two possessions of the game, and on Oklahoma State’s second offensive possession, Gundy decided it was going to take seven points – not three – to beat a Texas team that had looked more like a playoff contender with each passing week.

    When the Cowboys’ drive stalled at Texas’ 16-yard line with Oklahoma State facing 4th & 1, Gundy kept his offense on the field and his special teams unit on the sideline. The goal wasn’t just to get the first down.

    They were going for the end zone.

    Oklahoma State lined up in an I-formation with one wide receiver to the left. Texas stacked the box with five players lined up on the line of scrimmage and four linebackers within three yards of the ball.

    Given the down and distance for Oklahoma State combined with the fact that they had a fullback in the backfield, the Longhorns were ready to stop the run.

    Except the Cowboys weren’t running the ball.

    Cornelius faked the handoff and rolled out to allow the play to develop while an untouched and uncovered Jelani Woods leaked out from the chaos at the line of scrimmage.


    Woods was wide open, giving Oklahoma State a 14-7 lead. Equally as important as the seven points was the faith Gundy showed in his team’s offense as he opened up the playbook and played to win, rather than settle for a chip-shot field goal.

    But Gundy, Cornelius and the Cowboys weren’t done rolling the dice.

    On their final possession of the first half, they faced another 4th & 1, this time from Texas’ 36-yard line with 1:24 to play before halftime.

    Oklahoma State turned to their 12 personnel and lined up in a two tight end set with a wide receiver on either side of the hashes and a running back flanking Cornelius. Cornelius took the shotgun snap, pump faked to his left immediately, then threw a jump ball down the right sideline to Tylan Wallace, who was facing man coverage with a safety providing help over the top.


    The play didn’t seem destined for the end zone – or even a completion – at first as Cornelius’ throw appeared to be at risk of getting intercepted, but Texas defensive back Kris Boyd mistimed his jump as Wallace high-pointed the ball, and safety Brandon Jones overran Wallace.

    Wallace was able to skip into the end zone for just one of his 10 catches in a 222-yard, two-touchdown night. The score left the Longhorns with just 1:17 to work with before halftime, giving Oklahoma State a 31-14 lead.

    Given how the Cowboys’ scoring slowed in the second half and the final margin of victory was just three points, Oklahoma State’s aggression and home-run mentality on fourth down was absolutely necessary to pull off the upset.


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