Oklahoma State Cowboys Triumph Over Kansas State Wildcats: Three Key Takeaways

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In Stillwater, Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Cowboys secured a notable victory over the Kansas State Wildcats with a final score of 29-21 in an intense Big 12 Conference matchup. Here are three key observations from the game:

The Cameron Epps Turnaround

Redshirt freshman Cameron Epps had a remarkable turnaround after a challenging start to his career. Just two weeks ago, in his first career start against Iowa State, Epps struggled. However, the bye week provided him with an opportunity for individual coaching and a productive practice week, during which he managed to snag seven interceptions.

Epps made a significant impact in the game, contributing to the Cowboys’ 20-7 lead at halftime. In the first quarter, he recorded his first career interception, and although it didn’t directly result in points, it marked a crucial milestone. His second interception came late in the first half, a game-changing play. With less than a minute left before halftime, Epps intercepted a pass and returned it for a 25-yard touchdown. His ability to read the play, anticipate a miscommunication between the Wildcats’ quarterback and receiver, and make the touchdown return demonstrated his emerging talent.

Notably, Epps became the first freshman to record two interceptions in a game since Shaun Lewis in Bedlam 2010. He was also the first freshman to return an interception for a touchdown since Ramon Richards achieved it against Kansas State on Nov 1, 2014.

Kansas State’s Offensive Struggles

Kansas State’s offense faced significant challenges, especially during the first half. Quarterback Will Howard had only 11 yards passing, and the Wildcats struggled on third downs, converting just one out of six attempts. While the Wildcats gained a total of 133 yards, 70 of those yards came from a single play – Howard’s 70-yard run that set up their lone touchdown in the half. Turnovers were a major issue for Kansas State, with two critical turnovers that hindered their offensive momentum. Oklahoma State effectively neutralized their running game, and the passing game appeared out of sync and ineffective.

The second half did not bring significant improvement for the Wildcats, despite Howard contributing both through rushing and passing for over 100 yards by the game’s end. He orchestrated a late touchdown drive that narrowed the Cowboys’ lead to eight points. However, when given a chance to tie the game, Howard threw his third interception of the night, sealing the victory for Oklahoma State.

All Hail Alex Hale

Oklahoma State’s offense found itself struggling in the red zone, with a 1-for-5 touchdown conversion rate from within the 20-yard line, despite Kansas State’s depleted cornerback situation.

In stepped Alex Hale, a sixth-year collegiate player, who made a significant impact on the game. Hale went 5-for-6 on field goals, providing crucial points whenever the Cowboys’ red zone offense faltered. His only missed field goal was blocked, and his longest of the night was an impressive 53-yarder.Hale’s field goals were instrumental in the game’s outcome, as at one point in the fourth quarter, his five field goals represented the difference on the scoreboard with Oklahoma State leading 29-15.

It’s important to note that Hale had been overshadowed by Lou Groza semifinalist Tanner Brown last season, but his performance in this game showcased his kicking prowess. The Australian kicker, who honed his skills at a camp run by former NFL kicker John Carney, certainly made his mentor proud with his exceptional performance on Friday night.

Kansas State football
STILLWATER, OK – OCTOBER 6: Kicker Alex Hale #19 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys scores on a 43-yard field goal against the Kansas State Wildcats in the first quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium on October 6, 2023 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State won 29-21. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Kansas State football
STILLWATER, OK – OCTOBER 6: Wide receiver Jaden Bray #5 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys dives for the end zone but comes up short as he is brought down by linebackers Beau Palmer #57 and Jake Clifton #31 of the Kansas State Wildcats in the second quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium on October 6, 2023 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State won 29-21. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

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