3 Cowboys Takeaways: Trip To Florida Ends With Nightmare 45-3 Loss To UCF

Oklahoma State's early turnovers led to a deficit that was too much to overcome as Plumlee threw for nearly 300 yards and 3 TDs en route to a 45-3 upset win over the No. 15 Cowboys.

Saturday, November 11th 2023, 8:09 pm

By: Drake Johnson


A scrappy UCF team wearing space-themed uniforms on a warm and rainy Florida afternoon, facing a ranked Oklahoma State team coming off an emotional win over a rival seemed to be the recipe for disaster that the Cowboys didn't order.

The spread, at only -2, seemed to foreshadow how Vegas and the rest of the oddsmakers felt OSU's chances at winning six straight seemed.

I truly expected Gundy and the Cowboys to take care of business this weekend, but a 45-3 whooping proves not only that UCF is formidable with all the right pieces, but that the Big 12 is wide open for the taking.

The Cowboys dropped to 5-2 in the conference, with losses to Iowa State and UCF.

1st Takeaway: Slow Start Erases All Hope

The Cowboys simply did not come to play on Saturday. To start, the OSU defense gave up a touchdown in just over three minutes on the first drive, an eight-play 75-yard drive that ended with RJ Harvey's first score of the day.

The nightmare continued on the next possession, as Heisman candidate Ollie Gordon fumbled on the drive's fourth play to hand UCF the ball near midfield.

The defense did OSU no favors, allowing another touchdown just four plays later and with six minutes off the board it was 0-14, UCF.

The offense settled in on the next possession, at least for a little bit.

Quarterback Alan Bowman drove the Cowboys to the UCF's 23-yard line and then threw an interception to Braeden Marshall. A huge turning point after a horrendous start may have put the nail in the coffin in the first quarter. By halftime, it was 24-0 UCF.

Bowman vs UCF, Nov 11, 2023Image Provided By: Associated Press

2nd Takeaway: Where Did The Run Defense Go?

The Golden Knights rushed for 293 yards against the Cowboys' defense, allowing Harvey to put up 200 yards and three rushing touchdowns of his own. One of those came on a 92-yard run late in the third quarter, right after the Cowboys threw a redzone interception in an attempt to cut their deficit to 14. One play later, and it was a blowout, 31-3.

Missed tackles and a lack of effort were the main catalysts for the defensive breakdowns.

On Harvey's nearly-record-breaking UCF run, a hole opened up in the middle and two Cowboys had a chance to bring him down but he sped right past them for a trip to the endzone.

On Saturday, it looked like the Golden Knights were faster than Oklahoma State in all facets. Maybe the space uniforms had something to do with it.

3rd Takeaway: Mike Gundy Did Not Have His Team Prepared

A week after knocking off Oklahoma, the Cowboys came out as uninspired as possible against UCF. That responsibility falls on the head coach. OSU was never in this game. The Golden Knights never had a win probability lower than 64 percent, according to ESPN, and that was the first few plays of the game.

Coach Gundy had vaulted himself into the Big 12 Coach of the Year discussion and with an inside track to a second conference championship appearance, the Cowboys fell flat on their pistols, no shots were even fired.

Coach Mike Gundy vs UCF - Nov. 11, 2023Image Provided By: Associated Press

"We would like to say we outcoach everybody 12 times a year, but that doesn't happen," Coach Gundy said at the postgame press conference. "If your concepts aren't as good, you can't just overcome that. My honest opinion is that they coached better than us in this game."

This team's success is all on the shoulders of Ollie Gordon. Being down early means abandoning the run game and the quarterback feels pressure to make plays, resulting in three interceptions for Bowman. He got his praises last week for a great game against the Sooners but on Saturday he showed how pivotal that run game is to the Cowboys' ability to win games.

Bowman finished 19/36 for 225 yards and those three turnovers, while UCF's John Rhys Plumlee went 11/18 with 299 and 3 TDs.

The Cowboys are bound to drop in the next CFP rankings, but the season is far from over.

UP NEXT: @ Houston on Nov. 18


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