Originally Published: Oct 30, 2010 5:54 PM CDT
It was a very businesslike performance by the Cowboys in Manhattan Saturday. They got done what they needed to get done. Mike Gundy sent a message with the suspension of Justin Blackmon and it didnt cost his team a thing. In fact, they likely learned a good deal about themselves.
Dont get me wrong, Kansas States offense isnt going to be confused with Oregons anytime soon. But OSUs defense made plays when it needed to and the Cowboys took several positives away from the Little Apple Saturday:
1. Brandon Weeden played his best game this season. He was accurate and made some big-boy throws from hashmark to sideline. His touchdown pass on a slant to Josh Cooper was a rocket. But most importantly, leaders must step forward and lead when their team faces adversity and Weeden certainly did that today.
2. The defense made plays. The Cowboy secondary (shredded by Nebraska last week) forced three turnovers. They broke up passes and forced fumbles and they got off the field on third down. Johnny Thomas 4th-quarter interception sealed the deal.
3. Quinn Sharp was OSUs 1st-half MVP. The offense couldnt finish drives. The Cowboys first six drives ended in Wildcats territory but with no points. Sharps pooch punts forced the Cats to start drives at their own 4, 8, 7 and 1. Hard to generate offense that way.
4. Bo Bowling showed that he can make plays with 8 catches for 92 yards. In OSUs new offense, or any offense for that matter, you cant have too many playmakers.
5. Kendall Hunter. Need we say more? As long as #24 can touch the ball 25-30 times a game, the Cowboys have a chance. He had the quietest 143 yards that I can remember, but the Pokes controlled the 2nd half by giving Hunter the ball.
There were some negatives as well:
1. Way too many penalties. And big penalties. Brodrick Browns unnecessary roughness, Richetti Jones facemask and Orie Lemons blow to the head on the quarterback were all big. The Cowboys have to hope that Browns targeting penalty doesnt earn him a one-game suspension from the Big 12.
2. Too many drops by receivers. There were at least 3 in the first half. That, combined with 2 turnovers and penalties cost the Cowboys the first half. Against a good team, OSU might have been down 21 to nothing on the road in a hostile environment at the break.
All in all, a terrific win for the Pokes. Before the season started, you probably viewed this game as a tossup at best. It was a road game in a tough place where you havent won since 1988 against a team with a returning All American at running back. And the Cowboys won to improve to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12. Theyre still tied for 1st in the Big 12 South. Thats a whole lot better than the last-place preciction many so-called experts had of OSU before the season started.
In the last three weeks the Cowboys have won in Lubbock and Manhattan...two huge stumbling blocks in seasons past. Thats progress and thats changing the national perception of which programs are the best in the Big 12.