By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Ninth-ranked Oklahoma State is going to play for a championship because of its dominating defense.
Oklahoma State wrapped up its first trip to the Big 12 championship game with a 23-0 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night, completely throttling an offense that hadn’t been shut out since 1997. The Cowboys have allowed only one offensive touchdown over their past four games, but this was their first shutout in a conference game or on the road since 1995.
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“I don’t know what to say, what else to say about the defense,” coach Mike Gundy said. “I’m just kind of running out of things to say about them on Saturdays. Hopefully, they can just stay the course.”
Spencer Sanders threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, and Tanner Brown kicked three field goals for the Cowboys (10-1, 7-1, CFP No. 9). The defense limited Texas Tech (6-5, 3-5), which had scored in 302 consecutive games, to 108 total yards that included a 25-yard pass on the final drive.
“Football’s a humbling game. … Highest of highs last week, lowest of lows this week,” said interim head coach Sonny Cumbie, whose Red Raiders had 41 points and 529 yards in a home win over Iowa State. “We just feel like we just did not play very well.”
With Bedlam at home next Saturday against 12th-ranked Oklahoma, the Cowboys are already assured of playing in the Big 12 title game Dec. 4 at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Still to be determined is if they will be the home or visiting team, and who they will play.
Oklahoma State and Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1, CFP No. 13) are tied for the Big 12 lead, so the winner next Saturday night will finish first in the regular-season standings. No. 11 Baylor (9-2, 6-2, CFP No. 11) is the only other team that could get in the title game, with a win over Texas Tech earlier that day combined with a Cowboys victory in Bedlam.
“I know they’re excited right now,” Gundy said of his players. “Like any other Saturday, though, even though this is a big Saturday for our team, we’ve still got a job to do.”
For the Cowboys, with two big games left, it could be bigger than the Big 12 after Oregon and Michigan State, teams ahead of them in the College Football Playoff rankings, suffered lopsided losses earlier Saturday.
Oklahoma State had its own issues at times with a banged-up offense, but ended up with 427 total yards after going 70 on its opening drive for a 24-yard field goal.
The Cowboys didn’t score again until Brown’s 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter, with that kick coming after some trickery that would have worked if wide-open Jaden Bray hadn’t gotten twisted around and fallen down in the end zone when fellow freshman receiver John Paul Richardson made a left-handed jump pass after getting the ball from Sanders.
Richardson caught a 14-yard TD pass from Sanders just before halftime, that coming one play after Texas Tech was called for defensive holding on a third-down play that had gained nothing. Sanders had a 9-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys won their only Big 12 title in 2011, which was the first season the league went to 10 teams and didn’t have a championship game. The title game was reinstated in 2017. … Oklahoma State reached 10 wins for the 10th time, and seventh since 2010.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders, who hadn’t been shut out at home since 1987, had 31 total yards on 28 offensive plays in the first half. They lost yardage on nine plays, including two of four completions by redshirt freshman quarterback Donovan Smith before halftime. He finished 9-of-28 passing for 83 yards, a week after finishing 25 of 32 or 322 yards and three TDs in his first start.
CHANCE TO TIE
Tech was down only 3-0 when reaching the OSU 37 on its third drive. But instead of a field goal that would have been shorter than the 62-yarder Jonathan Garibay made on the final play a week earlier to beat Iowa State, the Red Raiders threw an incompletion on fourth down.
WORTH WATCHING ON REPLAY
Before Oklahoma State’s second field goal, there were consecutive highlight catches that were reviewed. Tay Martin got behind two defenders for a diving catch, and his elbow dropped in bounds before his body rolled into the Texas Tech bench area. The referees ruled it a catch, and that stood after a replay review. On the next play, Blaine Green made a leaping catch on the opposite sideline that was initially ruled incomplete. It was an 18-yard completion after getting overturned on review.
Oklahoma State: Home against Oklahoma for what could be the first of two meetings in two weeks against their instate rival.
Texas Tech: At Baylor, where Joey McGuire was in fifth season on staff before being named coach of the Red Raiders on Nov. 8, though he won’t take over the on-field duties until after Tech’s bowl game.