- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas got handed a beatdown on Saturday. There’s no other fair way to put it.
In a game billed as one of the Big 12’s biggest of the season, between two teams streaking and in control of their conference title hopes, No. 12 Oklahoma State took control early and never let go in a 38-13 victory over the No. 24 Longhorns.
The Cowboys handed coach Mack Brown the most lopsided home loss of his 16 years in Austin, and there was nothing fluky about it.
OSU won a big-time conference test with a stingy defense, a superior run game, far better special-teams play and three forced turnovers. All against a Texas team that had won six straight and truly believed it could play with the Big 12 title contenders.
“I’m disappointed,” Brown said. “I don’t get stunned about anything anymore.”
The Longhorns, who hadn’t lost in two months, never led in this game. They started slowly, rallied back to 14-10 and then gave the game away in a matter of only seven plays.
The first six came on a 67-yard touchdown drive sparked by a 29-yard pass from Clint Chelf to a wide-open Jhajuan Seales on third-and-10. Two plays later, Chelf sent a pass right into the hands of Texas safety Adrian Phillips that bounced off and into the grasp of receiver Tracy Moore for a 12-yard score.
“It’s just a play I have to make,” Phillips said. “I make that play every day. It just went through my hands. Sometimes when you roll the dice, it doesn’t go your way.”
Down 21-10 with 75 seconds left in the first half, Texas’ offensive coaches opted to roll the dice and go for a score. They got one. OSU corner Justin Gilbert baited Case McCoy into throwing an out that Gilbert picked off and returned 43 yards to the end zone.
“Yeah, I was forcing things. There’s no doubt about it,” McCoy said.
McCoy threw two more interceptions on the day, including one swiped by linebacker Caleb Lavey that the Cowboys turned into a 21-yard touchdown one play later. That was the final score of the day, and with 1:54 left in the third quarter, the game was over.
“The quarterback goes out and throws three picks, you’re not going to win the ballgame,” McCoy said. “It’s very rare that happens. So it’s on me, my team knows it’s on me and we’re going to get it fixed and go win.”
That's not to single out McCoy and Phillips. There were mistakes all over the field in this game, and OSU repeatedly capitalized. Texas had no answer in the second half. One field goal and no spark. No big plays, no momentum, no change. It hadn't faced that feeling in a long time.
And there’s not much to second-guess. Oklahoma State was the far superior team. Brown was asked afterward about his usage of freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, which remains one of the great red herrings of Texas’ issues this season. Brown offered as honest an answer as he could have.
“You never make decisions when you’re tired and when you’re frustrated,” he said. “I’d say we’re both tonight.”
The clichés his players will lean on after this one -- about 24-hour rules and not letting one loss become two -- are actually apt. Texas still has plenty to play for. This team needs help to get to the Fiesta Bowl, yes. But Texas (7-3, 6-1 Big 12) gets more than 10 days to prepare for a Thanksgiving meeting with Texas Tech. Win that one and it'll still be in the thick of things with a trip to Waco on the horizon.
For now, though, all the Longhorns can worry about is fixing themselves. They made things far too easy for a talented Oklahoma State team that had very little trouble doing what it wanted to do in.
Brown wasn’t ready to assign much blame after the game. A thorough film session is needed before he can reach some conclusions, and he knows this season isn’t over yet.
“There’s a lot of football to be played,” Brown said. “You just can’t get your head down and lay down and quit when you have a bad night. You have to go back to work.”
There’s plenty of work to be done, even after the two-month run this team was on. Texas got its big moment on Saturday and got flat-out beat. Its Big 12 title hopes took a blow. We’ll know in two weeks whether it was a fatal one.