December 31, 2007

Insight Delight

TEMPE, Ariz. - At least half of the offensive fireworks showed up.

Coming into the Insight Bowl, many thought it would be a high-scoring affair between two offenses with some talented players.

At the end of the night, only half that equation really showed up, as Oklahoma State blew Indiana out of the Valley of the Sun, 49-33, in front of 48,892 at Sun Devil Stadium on New Year's Eve. The Cowboys took their foot off the gas in the second half and that allowed the Hoosiers to make the score less painful, but the game was nowhere near as close as the final stat line indicated.

While the Hoosiers (7-6) were able to put together a nice opening drive before stalling and settling for a field goal, they didn't do a whole lot on the field offensively until the fourth quarter, when the game was well past decided. Through three frames, IU only had 230 yards of offense and 17 points. But they ended the game with 399 yards 33 points.

And while the OSU offense has been the big story all season long, the defense can be credited with an early assist. They played a very solid first quarter, keeping the Hoosiers to only 67 yards of total offense and allowing just three points in the first frame.

"They always seem to feed off of us and we try to feed off them, but we came out doing the things that we had practiced for a month," Andre Sexton said. "We just had to go out there and execute our play calls, run around and make tackles and try to contain the quarterback. And we did that for a pretty good part of the first half, so that enabled us to jump up on them a little bit."

The Cowboys (7-6) had no offensive struggles at all, managing to score on each of their first five drives and six of their first eight. They didn't run the punting team out until early in the third quarter. Zac Robinson orchestrated a nearly-flawless game and had a solid evening running and throwing the ball. He threw for 302 yards on 24-of-34 passing with three touchdowns and one interception. On the ground, he ran the ball 15 times for 74 yards and two scores. Those numbers earned him the Insight Bowl Offensive Player of the Game award.

"We knew we wanted to get off to a fast start," Robinson said. "We knew they would come out fired up early. They came out with exactly what we thought they would do. And so when they (did), we had to check, coach (Mike) Gundy and the rest of the coaches got us to the check we needed. And that's really what has us clicking so early on."

In the early going, Robinson was on fire. After the first quarter, the sophomore from Littleton, Colo., had completed seven of eight passes for 101 yards and one score.

"Obviously we got off to a fast start," Gundy said. "We felt like that we would be faster than them in space and it would be difficult for them to tackle us if we got our guys out in space so that was our game plan. The players executed it early in the game."

The other Cowboy offensive stars turned in solid performances as well. Dez Bryant reeled in nine catches for 117 yards and two scores. Adarius Bowman finished out his OSU career in nice style, catching six balls for 74 yards and one score. And the running game didn't disappoint, as Dantrell Savage ran for exactly 100 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown. His average per carry was 4.3 yards an attempt. In all, the Pokes finished with 513 yards of total offense - 302 in the air and 211 on the ground.

The Cowboys ended up sweeping the two game awards, with Donovan Woods winning the Defensive Player of the Game award.

Last year, the Insight Bowl featured one the biggest comeback in NCAA bowl history, as Texas Tech beat Minnesota. While the Cowboys were in no danger of losing tonight, it turned into another high-scoring affair late. The 82 points scored in the game, the game has averaged a point total of 82.4 over the course of the last five years. ... Robinson's 302 yards passing ranks as the fourth-best throwing total in OSU bowl history. At the top of that list is his coach, who passed for 315 yards in the 1988 Holiday Bowl, while current Major League Baseball player Josh Fields has the next two spots, throwing for 310 yards in the 2002 Houston Bowl and 307 in the 2004 Cotton Bowl. ... Bowman's 74 yards receiving bumped him up to 1,006 yards on the season. That is the second time Bowman has eclipsed the four-digit mark. The only other Poke to do that multiple times is Rashaun Woods, who did that in 2001, '02 and '03. ... With the win, OSU improves its overall bowl mark to 12-6. In their recent bowl run over the last six seasons, the Cowboys are 3-2.

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