Oklahoma State Has Won By Controlling 4th Quarters This Season

first_imgWe’ve seen the Cowboys play some close games over the last couple of years. The moniker “Cardiac Cowboys” is well earned.Saturday night, Mike Gundy came home from Manhattan in a good mood for just the second time as a head coach after a game his team had no business winning. We know about the turnovers. We saw the Cowboy defense make another Wildcat QB look like Cam Newton.So how does OSU win these close games? Simple. They are very good in the fourth quarter.On average, the Cowboys allow their opponents just 4.6 points per fourth quarter. That’s good for 17th in the nation and second in the Big 12 behind Baylor who allows just 3.3 points per fourth quarter.A big part of the Cowboys’ late-game defensive prowess is due to increased depth on that side of the ball especially along the defensive line. A consequence of a deliberate decision by Oklahoma State’s head coach.Mike Gundy on his increased depth on defense:“I mentioned in preseason that this was the first time that we felt like we could play two defensive lines since I’ve been head coach here,” said Gundy. “That’s been our goal from Day 1, it’s just taken us a long time to accomplish it. It goes back to the switch we made four years ago in scholarship numbers, allotting more on the defensive side, to try to get to this point. … Active defensive linemen make a big difference late in the game.”On offense the Cowboys are always explosive but have been especially so in the fourth quarter. They are third-best in the Big 12 at scoring in the final period of regulation, averaging 9.0 points. That’s behind only Texas Tech (11.8) and TCU (11.2).If we combine the two stats we can see the fourth-quarter point differential. Here’s how OSU stacks up to other Big 12 teams.TCU  6.4Baylor 4.7Oklahoma State 4.4West Virginia 2.3Texas 1.3Iowa State 0.5Texas Tech 0.0Oklahoma -1.7Kansas State -4.2Kansas -5.0So the Cowboys average 4.4 more points per fourth quarter than their opponents so far this season. Oklahoma is surprising, giving up almost two more points than they score.Of course this stat (like most) has to be taken into context. For example, if the Cowboys were up two touchdowns by the end of the third, Mike Gundy probably definitely plays it more conservatively to finish out the clock.On the other hand, if OU is blowing out TCU in three quarters (49-24), they may be more prone to be outscored in the fourth.The Cowboys’ point differential in the first three quarters of games is as follows:1st Quarter: 2.22nd Quarter: 2.13rd Quarter: -0.6So if OSU wasn’t letting lesser teams stick around in the first three quarters, they wouldn’t have to work so hard at the end of games. Still, the point remains.“When we talk about no fear, no fatigue, no frustration in our program, they never showed any frustration, they just kept playing,” Gundy said after the KSU game (and could have said after about five games this year).“Obviously, fatigue wasn’t an issue because they played better in the fourth quarter than they did in the third. So, their attitude, their body language, the character of who they are, the substance of this team, I can’t say anything but A-plus.”The Cowboys still have three defensive tests to finish out the season in Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma. With the likelihood of close late games, they will need their trend of efficient fourth quarters to continue. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img

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