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Report card: OSU vs. Miami

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Cheez-it Bowl

Miami running back Donald Chaney Jr. (2) leaps for extra yardage under OK State safety Tre Sterling (3) during the Cheez-It Bowl college football game of Miami versus Oklahoma State at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

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

Passing offense: A+

The Cheez-it Bowl MVP, Spencer Sanders, was splendid against Miami. Sanders was 27 of 40 for 305 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Sanders led the passing attack, but his right-hand man was freshman Brennan Presley. Presley caught six passes for 118 yards, but the most impressive number in his final line was his three touchdown catches. The most impressive touchdown of his already impressive touchdown total was the first score of the day when Presley jumped at the 1-yard line to make a catch and swivel around his momentum to break the plane of the goal line. The Cowboys passing attack, although it slowed down when star WR Tylan Wallace did not enter the game in the second half, won the Cowboys the Cheez-it Bowl.

Rushing offense: C-

Yikes. It was a rough day on the ground for the Cowboys. As a team, they ran for only 113 total yards and averaged only 2.6 yards per tote. The bulk of OSU’s carries from the backfield were divvied up among three players who have seen time this season. LD Brown received 12 attempts while Dezmon Jackson and Dominic Richardson each received seven. In terms of yardage, the Cowboys’ leading rusher was Sanders, who had 45 yards, which illustrates how difficult it was for the Pokes to move the ball on the ground and melt minutes off the clock in the latter stages of the game.

Defense: C

OSU’s defense limited the Hurricanes to exactly the number of points they averaged this season, 34. That is fitting because, although the Cowboy defense played well enough to win, it was an average performance. The Cowboys allowed 356 passing yards and 156 rushing yards, both higher numbers than what the OSU offense generated. The ‘Canes star quarterback, D’Eriq King, was injured midway through the second quarter and did not return, but OSU’s defense failed to capitalize. Backup QB N’Kosi Perry played well in the game, throwing for 228 yards and two touchdowns.

Special teams: B

Cowboy kicker, Brady Pohl, missed an extra point and a 33-yard field goal in the game, which gave OSU fans plenty of reasons to be nervous in a game that was eventually decided by three points. Although two kicks were missed, the Pokes still managed to win the special teams battle. Miami WR Mike Harley muffed a Tom Hutton punt that the Cowboys jumped on to give them momentum. The ‘Canes also attempted a 2-point conversion in the third quarter to tie the game at 21. After it looked like the Hurricanes picked up the conversion and tied the game, the call was reversed, and the Cowboys held onto the lead.

Execution of Gundy’s Cheez-It bath: B+

When the camera found Cowboys Tre Sterling and the previously mentioned Presley looking for a Gatorade cooler on the sideline with the game clock dwindling down, everyone knew what was coming. The duo found a cooler stashed with Cheez-It crackers and ran onto the field looking in every direction for coach Mike Gundy. It was after Gundy shook hands with Miami’s Manny Diaz that the pair found their coach, and they tipped thousands of crackers on their surprised coach. It wasn’t a flawless execution of a celebratory coach-dunking, as it took a while after the game for Gundy to be showered in cheese, but because an estimated 90% of the crackers landed on Gundy and forced him to tug at his collar to get them out of his shirt, it was worthy of a letter grade that would make mom happy.

sports.ed@ocolly.com