Despite recent performances, Jaylen Warren entered Darrell K. Royal Stadium as the underdog.
Warren, Oklahoma State’s starting running back, had rushed for more than 100 yards in OSU’s past three games, but remained in the shadow of one of the nation’s favorites for the Heisman Trophy.
Texas running back Bijan Robinson.
Yet, the underdog outperformed the heavy favorite Saturday in Austin. Warren tallied 58 more rushing yards than Robinson as the Cowboys defeated the Longhorns 32-24.
The first half belonged to Robinson, who bullied his way through the OSU defense on the majority of his carries, touching the ball 13 times for 74 yards. Additionally, he wrestled his way into the endzone for the first touchdown of the game.
Robinson’s receiving threat was also on display, as he collected three receptions for 38 yards and another touchdown to bolster the UT lead to 14.
Meanwhile, Warren was plateauing in the OSU offense.
Warren’s hands likewise touched the ball 13 times, collecting 55 yards, but not once reaching the endzone. He only gained one yard on a single reception before halftime.
"We run, we pass, whatever works," Warren said. "I try my best to contribute."
Warren entered the locker room at halftime with his total yardage numbers doubled by his counterpart. Robinson was on pace for over 200 yards of offense and another quality performance to add to his Heisman resume looked imminent.
The heavy favorite was prepared to finish the match.
Even as the game seeped into the second half, Warren was limited to seven touches, his largest rush being six yards. On the other hand, Robinson continued to pour on touchdowns, breaking a run for 38 yards, and crossing the pylons for the third time in the game.
Through three quarters, Robinson handily led Warren in rushing yards 128-75. The favorite primed himself to put the finishing move on his challenger.
Warren finally broke free in the fourth. Quarterback Spencer Sanders handed the ball to him 13 times, with Warren breaking loose for 118 yards in the quarter.
“We changed the direction we were setting the formation,” Gundy said. “(Warren’s) cutbacks as you can tell allowed us to rush the ball and get natural creases and cutbacks.”
OSU’s offensive line started seeing success against UT, allowing large rushing lanes for Warren, who had three rushes of 20+ yards in the fourth.
He only went backward once, losing two yards in the final two minutes, but made up for it by rushing eight yards to give OSU a first down, and enter victory formation.
In the fourth, Robinson received the ball three times, rushing for a net gain of seven yards. When the scoreboard displayed triple zeroes in the time slot, Warren had out-rushed Robinson 193-135.
“(Robinson) is a great player, but we minimized it in the second half,” Gundy said.
The underdog had outplayed the favorite when it mattered.
In a game where no OSU receivers had more than 50 receiving yards, Warren elevated OSU (6-0 overall, 3-0 Big 12) to its third consecutive win over an AP Top 25 team.
In the past, coach Mike Gundy emphasized the Cowboys’ goal of averaging 4.5 yards per carry, and following Warren’s efforts, OSU achieved that goal for the first time this season.
Warren averaged 5.8 yards per carry, a number higher than the OSU passing efforts when factoring in how many times Sanders dropped back.
Warren rushed 33 times for 193 yards. Sanders dropped back 32 times, throwing for 178 yards.
“I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t play on Sunday’s,” Gundy said. “He is 220 pounds, he is humble, he is unselfish, he loves his teammates and he is durable.”