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Notebook: Cowboys finish with a win after explosive first quarter

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Cheez-it Bowl

Oklahoma State players Tyrese Williams (60) and Samuela Tuihalamaka (35) celebrate after winning the Cheez-It Bowl college football game of Miami versus Oklahoma State at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, Oklahoma State won the game 37-34. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Sudeep Tumma and Ryan Novozinsky break down OSU's 34-31 victory over Miami in the Cheez-It Bowl.

Oklahoma State is leaving Orlando victorious to finish at 8-3 on the year.

After the win, the Cowboys met with the media one final time post game.

Leaving Orlando with a win

The OSU season didn’t go how people had expected it to, but despite the ups and downs, it ended the year with a win.

OSU had to deal with injuries and tough losses all season, but continued to overcome those bumps to finish 8-3 and with a Cheez-It Bowl victory.

“Any time you get a bowl win, it just carries you over to the next season and I'm really happy for the guys,” defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “They fought hard and obviously till the last play. That was a really good team we played, really good offense and they kept us on our heels with a lot of trick plays. You know, it was just good to see our guys battle till the end.”

Malcolm Rodriguez decides to return in 2021

Malcolm Rodriguez could’ve opted to give the NFL a shot, but instead he decided to run it back with the Cowboys next season in 2021.

Rodriguez was vital in the Cowboys’ final two stops of the game to seal the victory. Rodriguez will provide experience to a linebacking core that is expected to lose Amen Ogbongbemiga.

Rodriguez will get his degree while honing some aspects of his game.

“I talked to my family and the biggest thing was coming back and getting my degree,” Rodriguez said. “And since I switched my major so late, supposed to finish next fall, so that was a big, important part. I still felt like I could work on some key points in my game.” 

Spencer Sanders improves through the season

Spencer Sanders’ road to the end of this year wasn’t smooth.

From injuries to turnovers, he’s had to bounce back and overcome every obstacle. He prevailed in the final game of 2020 to the tune of 27 of 40 for 305 yards and four touchdowns.

Going into 2021, he’s looking to continue to improve his fundamentals with the help of quarterback coach Tim Rattay. Coach Mike Gundy sees Sanders’ future and sees how he continues to improve.

“He continues to improve and get better each game,” Gundy said. “Coach Rattay has done a really good job with him. Coach Dunn puts him in a good position offensively to have success. The one area that he gained big strides in this year was his composure. His composure on the field, off the field, on the sideline; if something didn't go well, his composure was really, really good. That allows a quarterback to get better in my experience of doing this for 31 years.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com