Oklahoma State seemed reluctant to rely on the leadership Clint Chelf could provide.
Oh, the senior quarterback was appointed as the starter in the season opener, a decision coach Mike Gundy refused to announce in advance, but was quickly yanked from that game. This, after Chelf was dropped to third team last season before coming on down the stretch and leading the Cowboys to a romp over Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Needing a win at Texas Tech to stay in the Big 12 title chase, the Cowboys turned to Chelf and he delivered again. By throwing for 211 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for an additional 88 yards, Chelf engineered a convincing 52-34 victory on the road as the Cowboys improved to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12.
"His leadership out there, his overall game management, it's nice to have that experience," said Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
Can that experience be counted on through the remainder of the season? Tough to answer. The Cowboys have a replacement in J.W. Walsh with considerable experience. It's not as if Chelf is untouchable.
Against Texas Tech, however, the Oklahoma State coaches lived with a pair of interceptions and allowed Chelf to stay in the game. Following one of those wayward passes, he bounced back and darted for a 67-yard touchdown off a quarterback draw.
"Glaring mistake when you throw it to the other team," Gundy said. "If it's not for that, everybody's saying, 'Hey, he played a great game.' But for the most part, he made some big plays. Continues to run the ball effectively. He played pretty good."
He certainly had help. After gaining a career-high 219 yards a week earlier at Iowa State, running back Desmond Roland carried 31 times. He led a concerted effort by Oklahoma State to pound the football. It attempted 55 rushes and gained 281 yards, taking pressure off Chelf while creating opportunities through the air.
Even defensive teammates who contributed to three takeaways and 10 tackles for loss noticed the poise Chelf brought to the offensive huddle.
"Clint did a great job," said linebacker Caleb Lavey. "He's one of those players that accepts the challenge and that's one of the things he did. He took on his role as one of the leaders on the offense.
"He had some great leaders surrounding him and they did a great job at staying composed. There were a few times when Tech came back and made it a close ballgame, but the offense did a great job."
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 10 IN THE BIG 12:
1. Oklahoma State went on the road and got a must-win to remain in the Big 12 hunt, taking control with a strong defense to begin the second half at Texas Tech. The Cowboys' run game is starting to flourish and gives them confidence to execute on any down and distance.
2. Texas seemed to sleep-walk through much of its game against last-place Kansas, but swiped momentum on a fumble return for a touchdown by DT Chris Whaley, a former running back. The victory vaulted the Longhorns into sole possession of first place in the Big 12.
3. Kansas State is beginning to gain more confidence with an improving defense and a two-quarterback system that is beginning to allow each player more freedom in the system. The Wildcats almost recorded a shutout, allowing Iowa State its only score with 3:24 remaining.
4. West Virginia got the overtime edge over TCU this year after the two Big 12 newcomers staged a double-overtime duel that the Horned Frogs won last season. The Mountaineers blew a 10-point lead late in regulation, but won with a field goal after stuffing TCU on its OT possession.
5. Texas Tech was the surprising team of the Big 12 when it got off to a 7-0 start under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, but problems that sometimes afflict freshman quarterbacks caught up with Davis Webb in the loss to Oklahoma State. Critical turnovers hurt the Red Raiders.