By Jason Elmquist
DALLAS, Texas —
The Oklahoma State football team closed its 2012 season the same way it opened it — in blowout fashion.
The Cowboys throttled Big 10 opponent Purdue 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium to cap an up-and-down season on a high note.
“I think the overall speed of our football team was considerably different, and that’s what made the difference in the football game,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “We were able to make some good plays, force some turnovers and take advantage of them.
The Oklahoma State defense manhandled the Boilermakers, shutting out Purdue for nearly three quarters — at which point OSU was already up by 45 just before the fourth quarter.
The Cowboy defense, which was averaging just one takeaway per game during the regular season, came up with five forced turnovers — including one returned for a touchdown.
“Our defense was really good. I thought our defense played very opportunistic, meaning there were some times where our players made plays at key points in the game, and we were able to force those turnovers and get off the field,” Gundy said. “I was really happy with those guys.”
OSU’s defense got its first defensive touchdown of the season when Justin Gilbert stripped O.J. Ross and the ball bounced into the arms of Daytawion Lowe, who ran it 37 yards into the end zone. It was the first fumble for a touchdown in the three-year history of the bowl and just the third fumble for a touchdown in 76 games held at the Cotton Bowl.
“I was running over there to try to help (Gilbert) before he got the first down. He made a good play, stripped it down and popped it right into my hands,” Lowe said. “It really was a credit to Justin on that. I just ran it in.”
It was retribution for a defense that struggled down the stretch in back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Baylor.
But while the defense played improved, the Cowboy offense continued to roll.
Oklahoma State’s offense took advantage of the turnovers to set a record for most points scored in a bowl game played at the Cotton Bowl — of 76 games played at the historic venue — surpassing USC’s 55-point outburst against Texas Tech in 1995. It was also the second-most points by OSU in a bowl game, trailing only the 62 points scored in the 1988 Holiday Bowl.
Junior quarterback Clint Chelf finished with three touchdowns in just three quarters of play to earn Most Valuable Player honors. He gave way for J.W. Walsh, who also tossed a pair of touchdowns, before true freshman Wes Lunt came in for the final two drives of the game.
“It worked out really well. Clint obviously took control of the game, J.W. came in and played and was able to run our base offense,” Gundy said. “... That gave us a chance to get Wes in the game, let him execute our offense. ... So it was good for all three guys to get some work.”
The Cowboys got a balanced attack with the running back trio of Joseph Randle, Desmond Roland and Jeremy Smith tallying 157 yards with OSU finishing with 213 yards rushing.
Josh Stewart also ran for 21 yards to go along with a 64-yard punt return, a 15-yard pass attempt and 56 yards receiving.
“I’m the type of player that when my name is called, my team needs me to make a play, I just try to do my best to do that,” Stewart said.
The Cowboys finish the season with an 8-5 record and improve to 15-8 all time in bowl games. Gundy improved his bowl record to 5-2 as coach of his alma mater.