DALLAS – Like everyone (well, everyone except the Mayans), Oklahoma State flipped the calendar to a new year. And 2013 is off to great start.
A year ago, the Big 12 Conference champions capped the greatest season in school history with a 41-38 overtime victory over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. The 2012 season was a glass half empty - a 7-5 season with three losses coming by seven or fewer points – and a glass half full because the Cowboys persevered through injuries at quarterback that led to three different starters who all threw for more than 1,000 yards.
If a bowl game is a springboard, then Oklahoma State is ascending at a rapid rate. The Cowboys brushed aside Purdue, 58-14, Tuesday in the inaugural Heart of Dallas Bowl played at the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma State (8-5) blitzed to a 28-0 lead in the game's first 20 minutes, dominating on offense, defense and special teams.
"These bowl games lead you into winter workouts," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose team opens the 2013 season against Mississippi State on Aug. 31 in Houston's Reliant Stadium. "If you don't finish like you want to, it can set a negative tone and winning a bowl game becomes more important.
"To come back out and play well after losing our last two, we were able to come back, prepare well and play well. That can be a big help to the team's attitude to finish like we did."
Purdue played butter to Oklahoma State's hot knife. The Boilermakers' best and most meaningful play was a 16-yard gain on a fake punt from their own 13. However, the extended opening possession stalled at the Purdue 32. Otherwise, there were turnovers (the Cowboys gathered a season-high five), a missed field goal that would have made it 14-3 and dropped passes.
Basically, the Makers Of Boilers provided all the ingredients Oklahoma State needed for a blowout. The Cowboys were more than happy to expertly mix the recipe.
Oklahoma State's first two touchdown drives covered 19 yards in 1:19 and 26 yards in 25 seconds. Quinn Sharp's first punt covered 65 yards and after the successful fake punt, Josh Stewart returned Purdue's first punt 64 yards to set up the first Oklahoma State touchdown. The second TD resulted from Shamiel Gary's interception of a pass tipped by defensive lineman Calvin Barnett.
"We ran into a very good football team," said Purdue interim head coach Patrick Higgins, whose team lost three fumbles and threw two interceptions. "When you play a quality opponent and turn it over five times and don't take advantage of your opportunities, the game can turn out like this.
"They converted all those turnovers into 35 points and that's a lot to overcome."
The turnover-fest was reminiscent of the 2011 team that led the nation in turnover margin. In 12 regular-season games, Oklahoma State forced just 17 turnovers while committing 22.
"The overall speed advantage we had was the difference in the game," said Gundy, who is 5-2 in bowl games. "Our defense was really good. They got some yards but we played opportunistic. We made plays at key points and we forced turnovers and got off the field. We tackled better, especially in the open field."
The 28-0 halftime lead was the largest in a bowl game in Oklahoma State history and assured the second half was nothing more than mundane clock-watching.
That became even more evident on Purdue's first possession. A completion that resulted in a first down became an Oklahoma State touchdown when Justin Gilbert stripped the ball from receiver O.J. Ross and the ball found its way to Daytawoin Lowe, who returned it 37 yards for a 35-0 lead.
"I was running over there to help and Justin stripped it away and it popped into my hands," Lowe said. "When we get turnovers we're a different team. We strive to get three of five turnovers a game."
Junior Clint Chelf was Oklahoma State's third-team quarterback and figured to play only when the Cowboys had a 40-point lead. Injuries to West Lunt and J.W. Walsh led to Chelf starting the last four games of the regular season. Against Purdue, Chelf was 17 of 22 for 197 yards and three touchdowns and was named the bowl MVP.
"Extremely surreal," Chelf said of his rise and success. Gundy said Chelf would be the starter when Oklahoma State starts spring practice. With the other nine Big 12 teams facing quarterback questions heading into 2013, the Cowboys are well equipped.
"We've got a lot of good play makers on this team," Chelf said. "Our job at quarterback is just get those guys the ball.
"Any time you've got a chance to win a bowl game, especially when you've lost your last two, it's extremely important. It says something about the team and the program, that we'll be ready for next year."
Next year … which is now this year.
Quinn Sharp, who has been the team's punter the last four seasons and its kicker the last two, finished his career fourth on the school's all-time scoring list with 301 points. He made 50 of 58 field goals and 151 of 152 extra points.
Oklahoma State had five scoring drives of two minutes or less and 48 of those drives this season. The Cowboys have had 40 consecutive games with at least one scoring drive under two minutes.
The 2012 Cowboys, who finished with 524 yards in total offense, averaged 547 yards per game – a school record.
Oklahoma State's 44-point win is the second-largest margin of victory by a Big 12 Conference team in a bowl game. The record is 49.
Oklahoma State's 58 points is the most in a bowl game played at Cotton Bowl Stadium, surpassing USC's 55-point effort against Texas Tech in 1995.
The 58 points is the second most by Oklahoma State in a bowl game. The Cowboys scored 62 against Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl.
Purdue allowed the most points in school history in a bowl game; the previous high had been 48.
Oklahoma State Bowl History (Record 14-8)
|Jan. 1, 2013||Heart of Dallas Bowl-Oklahoma State 58, Purdue 14|
|Jan. 2, 2012||Fiesta Bowl-Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38, OT|
|Dec. 29, 2010||Alamo Bowl-Oklahoma State 36, Arizona 10|
|Jan. 2, 2010||Cotton Bowl-Mississippi 21, Oklahoma State 7|
|Dec. 30, 2008||Holiday Bowl-Oregon 42, Oklahoma State 31|
|Dec. 31, 2007||Insight Bowl-Oklahoma State 49, Indiana 33|
|Dec. 28, 2006||Independence Bowl-Oklahoma State 34, Alabama 31|
|Dec. 29, 2004||Alamo Bowl-Ohio State 33, Oklahoma State 7|
|Jan. 2, 2004||Cotton Bowl-Mississippi 31, Oklahoma State 28|
|Dec. 27, 2002||Houston Bowl-Oklahoma State 33, Southern Miss. 23|
|Dec. 30, 1997||Alamo Bowl-Purdue 33, Oklahoma State 20|
|Dec. 30, 1989||Holiday Bowl-Oklahoma State 62, Wyoming 14|
|Dec. 25, 1987||Sun Bowl-Oklahoma State 35, West Virginia 33|
|Dec. 30, 1985||Gator Bowl-Florida State 34, Oklahoma State 23|
|Dec. 28, 1984||Gator Bowl-Oklahoma State 21, South Carolina 14|
|Dec. 31, 1983||Bluebonnet Bowl-Oklahoma State 24, Baylor 14|
|Dec. 12, 1981||Independence Bowl-Texas A&M 33, Oklahoma State 16|
|Dec. 18, 1976||Tangerine Bowl-Oklahoma State 49, Brigham Young 21|
|Dec. 28, 1974||Fiesta Bowl-Oklahoma State 16, Brigham Young 6|
|Dec. 13, 1958||Blue Grass Bowl-Oklahoma State 15, Florida State 6|
|Jan. 1, 1949||Delta Bowl-William & Mary 20, Oklahoma State 0|
|Jan. 1, 1946||Sugar Bowl-Oklahoma State 33, State Mary's 13|
|Jan. 1, 1945||Cotton Bowl-Oklahoma State 34, Texas Christian 0|