Analysis: Oklahoma State Squeaks by Miami in Cheez-It Bowl, 37-34

by Daniel Siegel
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Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State athletics

The 31st annual Cheez-It Bowl — previously known as Camping World Bowl — certainly lived up to any hype it received.

In the first bowl match-up between ranked teams, No. 18 Miami fell behind early, but even after its star quarterback D’Eriq King left due to injury, the Hurricanes continued to fight back. Nonetheless, 21st-ranked Oklahoma State ended up securing its second consecutive eight-win season and fourth bowl victory in the last five years on Tuesday night, 37-34.

Game Summary

Oklahoma State came out throwing the ball early. On the first drive, Spencer Sanders completed eight of 10 passes for 75 yards. The Cowboys struck first after a beautiful touchdown grab by Brennan Presley on fourth down.

After Miami’s offense punted on its first drive, and then turned it over on downs on its next, the Hurricanes quickly found themselves down 21-0.

The Canes struck back, though. A touchdown from King to Brevin Jordan on a deep slant helped cut the lead to 21-10 at halftime. Even with backup quarterback N’Kosi Perry, Miami consistently produced on offense and a Mike Harley touchdown catch and run made it 37-34 as the five-minute mark approached.

However, Miami failed to move the ball in crunch time and a late turnover on downs allowed Oklahoma State to come away with the victory.

Analysis

Miami certainly had its opportunities to win this game despite everything being stacked up against it.

Perry played better than most expected. His deep ball, which was practically non-existent in the past, was on cue on Tuesday night. But multiple times, Miami receivers were unable to haul them in.

Additionally, the play calling for Manny Diaz’s team was questionable on multiple occasions. Even early in the game, the quarterback draw on fourth down was completely telegraphed.

Then, Miami continued to run conservative pass concepts when Oklahoma State started to key in on it. It had been successful at times but the late 4th-and-9 tunnel screen was easily snuffed out by the Cowboys’ defense. That is a situation where you must trust Perry to throw it past the sticks.

Regardless, it is not a situation in which Hurricanes fans should feel completely discouraged. This was a much better bowl performance than last year’s shutout loss to Louisiana Tech. They simply came up short against another quality team. As long as King is healthy going into next year, there should be plenty of excitement around the Miami program.

Regarding Oklahoma State, this has to be encouraging. Star running back Chubba Hubbard did not play but Sanders was the consistent force that carried the offense. He made a couple of dangerous throws, but otherwise made sound decisions and was relatively accurate.

After being ranked sixth in the AP Poll in late-October, some Cowboys fans had playoff on their minds. Still, this program is one of the most consistent forces in the Big 12 and is trending upwards with the young quarterback.

Notable Performers

Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders

Sanders completed 27 of 40 passes for 305 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He ran for an additional 45 yards. On passes with 10 or more air yards, he hit on 6-for-10 for 139 yards.

Oklahoma State WR Brennan Presley

Presley was targeted 11 times and caught six for 118 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to a great early catch on a deep ball, 50 of his yards came after the catch. He also caught his passes against a variety of different coverage assignments within Miami’s defense. Presley was a mismatch all night.

Oklahoma State S Tre Sterling

Sterling played all 81 defensive snaps and was all over the field. On just four pass-rushing opportunities, he was credited with a sack and two additional quarterback hits. He also made 10 tackles on 11 chances — eight of which culminated in a positive result for the defense. Sterling did struggle in coverage, allowing seven receptions, but also had a pass breakup.

Miami TE Brevin Jordan

Jordan caught eight of 12 targets for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He was a threat as a route runner downfield, but also caught plenty of flats and screens and made defenders miss in the open field. Jordan was credited with four avoided tackles.

Miami LB Zach McCloud

McCloud only played about half the game, but certainly made his presence felt. On 22 pass rushing snaps, he hurried the quarterback five times. On five rushes towards his assigned gap, McCloud allowed just three yards. He was credited with three total tackles.

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