Bedlam hangover? No. 15 Oklahoma State’s Big 12 title hopes take a hit with 45-3 loss at UCF

Oklahoma State quarterback Alan Bowman (7) is hit by Central Florida linebacker Jason Johnson as he releases a pass during a rain shower in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

What a difference a week can make.

No. 15 Oklahoma State was riding high when it extended its winning streak to five games with a triumphant home win over rival Oklahoma in the final Bedlam game for the foreseeable future. A week later, the Cowboys went on the road and were blown out 45-3 by Big 12 newcomer UCF in a major hit to their hopes of reaching the Big 12 title game.

UCF was 1-5 in its first six Big 12 games, but the Knights were the better team from the start. UCF drove down the field and scored on its first two offensive possessions while Oklahoma State’s first two drives ended with turnovers — a fumble by star running back Ollie Gordon and then an interception by Alan Bowman.

By the 10:35 mark of the second quarter, UCF’s lead was 24-0. Oklahoma State could just never get anything going as the Knights were fired up to get their first Big 12 home win and do so over a ranked opponent.

Gordon, the nation’s leading rusher, was limited to just 25 yards on 12 carries while Bowman threw three costly interceptions. On the other side, UCF was able to run the ball at will. RJ Harvey led the way with 206 yards and three touchdowns, including a 92-yard burst midway through the third quarter. John Rhys Plumlee threw for 299 yards and three scores, all three of which went to Kobe Hudson. Plumlee also ran for 74 yards as the Knights finished the day with 293 rushing yards.

In all, UCF racked up 592 yards of offense while averaging a sizzling 8.5 yards per play.

Oklahoma State’s offense was an issue early in the season but that unit had been putting up big numbers on a weekly basis as it jumped into the thick of the Big 12 race. Gordon has been at the center of that as he went from part of a rotation to the nation’s leading rusher. He rushed for at least 120 yards in the previous six games, but he was bottled up by the Knights on Saturday.

The Cowboys averaged 507.8 yards per game during their five-game winning streak but could muster only 277 yards in Orlando.

The loss makes Oklahoma State’s path to the Big 12 title game more difficult. The conference standings are very crowded. Texas is 5-1 in league play entering its game vs. TCU on Saturday night while Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Iowa State all have two conference losses.

There should be further clarity before the end of Saturday night. Kansas State beat Baylor earlier Saturday, Oklahoma will host WVU in Norman and Iowa State is in Provo for a late-night game vs. BYU.

Oklahoma State’s schedule is favorable down the stretch. In its final two regular-season games, OSU will play Houston on the road before hosting BYU. Those teams are a combined 4-8 in Big 12 play entering Saturday night.

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