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Thursday, November 19, 2009
OSU holds on for gritty victory

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

It wasn't an artistic success.

As a matter of fact, it was far from it.
Brandon Weeden
Third-string quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

But Oklahoma State persevered for a tight 31-28 victory over Colorado, playing without starting quarterback Zac Robinson and overcoming a shaky first start by backup quarterback Alex Cate.

Former minor-league baseball player Brandon Weeden orchestrated the comeback with a stunning second-half passing display. His 168-yard passing effort was particularly noteworthy considering Cate was 0-for-9 in the first half.

The Cowboys overcame an 11-point deficit early in the third quarter to claim the triumph. But it will be interesting to see what kind of BCS bounce -- if any -- this game produces.

OSU was thought to be in a tight battle with teams like Iowa, Penn State and Boise State for an at-large spot.

They didn't look very deserving of a BCS bowl berth most of the game. But their performance in the fourth quarter stamped them as one of the most resilient OSU teams in history as they pushed their record to 9-2.

Coach Mike Gundy opted to rest Robinson in the game in order to save him for the Cowboys' regular-season finale at Oklahoma next week.

It nearly bit them as Colorado responded with a gritty effort that belied the Buffaloes' lack of bowl hopes as Tyler Hansen and Cody Hawkins both had their moments at quarterback for the Buffaloes (3-8).

But in the end, OSU had too much firepower. Underrated Keith Toston showed why he might be the best all-around running back in the Big 12 with 170 yards on 30 carries and a critical 47-yard touchdown reception that gave the Cowboys a short-lived lead early in the fourth quarter.

After after Colorado had reclaimed the lead on the ensuing kickoff, Weeden showed moxie in his responding drive. He hit 4-of-5 passes for 71 yards, converting two third-down plays along the way with critical completions. His 28-yard strike to Justin Blackmon was the game-winning play for the Cowboys.

And fittingly, OSU's defense salted away the victory. Linebacker Patrick Lavine killed one drive with a fumble recovery and Colorado's last drive was punctuated by a three-and-out from a Cowboy defense that allowed only 13 rushing yards and 251 total yards.

Gundy showed faith in Weeden directing the comeback and he did. The late rally keeps the Cowboys slim Big 12 South title hopes alive.

OSU can win the Big 12 South by beating Oklahoma next week and for Texas to lose remaining games against Kansas on Saturday and Texas A&M next week.

Despite the narrow victory, the Cowboys likely have a good shot at the school's first at-large BCS berth in school history. The victory looked remarkably like those that Iowa has been piling up in the Big Ten all season long.

OSU will be battling some heavy odds at Owen Field next week, where Oklahoma has a current 29-game winning streak that is the longest in the nation and a school record. Bob Stoops' teams are 65-2 at home in his career, including 49 wins there in their last 50 games.

The Cowboys are the only Big 12 team to ever beat Stoops in Norman with a triumph in 2001 that cost them the Big 12 South title that season. They'll have to have another similarly stunning victory next week to make history with their first berth into the BCS.