(Saturday, September 19th)
Final Score: (16) Oklahoma State 41, Rice 24
Stillwater, OK (Sports Network) - Dez Bryant caught nine passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns from Zac Robinson, as 16th-ranked Oklahoma State bounced back from a tough loss last weekend with a 41-24 win over Rice.
The Cowboys, then ranked fifth, dropped a 45-35 decision to Houston last Saturday, sending them tumbling in the rankings.
But Oklahoma State (2-1) rebounded thanks to Robinson, who completed 14-of-20 passes for 227 yards, with the two TDs and no interceptions. Robinson also ran for a score.
"He had a couple passes that I thought he could have thrown better," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. "I thought he ran the ball and played better, he took care of it. Overall, I thought it was the best he had played."
Beau Johnson ran for a touchdown and linebacker Donald Booker scored on a fumble recovery in the victory.
Nick Fanuzzi threw for 182 yards and was intercepted once on 16-of-28 passing for Rice (0-3), which has begun its season with three straight road losses, including a loss at Texas Tech last week. The Owls have their home opener against Vanderbilt next Saturday.
"These young men have played a challenging schedule, and I'm very excited they have because it's going to help us in conference play," Rice head coach David Bailiff said. "We've gone toe-to-toe against two of the best football teams in the country, and you saw how we've improved from one week to the next. And we'll continue to improve."
John Thomas Shepherd shared quarterback duties with Fanuzzi and had 119 yards on 12-of-23 completions. Charles Ross recorded three rushing touchdowns on just six carries for seven yards.
Oklahoma State took the lead on the game's opening drive, a 60-yard, 10-play progression that ended on a 23-yard pass from Robinson to Bryant.
Near the end of the first quarter, Rice had gotten to the OSU 18 before losing four yards on a pass play. A false start backed the Owls up five more yards before they lost another four yards on a pass play to end the frame. An incompletion to begin the second quarter set up a 4th-and-23 from the 31-yard line. The drive ended in one of the more disastrous ways it could have, as Booker recovered a fumble near midfield and ran it back 51 yards for the score.
Rice, though, got on the scoreboard later in the quarter, when Clark Fangmeier connected on a 34-yard field goal.
But the Cowboys responded with another touchdown from the Robinson-Bryant tandem, a 10-yard pass that capped a quick five-play, 63-yard drive. Oklahoma State took the 21-3 lead into halftime and expanded it on its opening drive of the third quarter.
An interception set the Cowboys up at the Rice 15, and Keith Toston gained 14 yards on two carries. Robinson then ran two times, getting into the end zone on the second try.
The Owls, however, made a quick and spirited comeback. Fanuzzi's 72-yard completion to Toren Dixon got the ball near the goal line, and Ross eventually ran it in from two yards out.
Rice then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, setting up at the OSU 32. The Owls were aided by a personal foul penalty on the Cowboys, and Fanuzzi's 14-yard completion to Patrick Randolph brought the ball to the five. Ross again eventually pushed the ball in, this time from one yard away, making it a 28-17 game.
"He's a big man," Bailiff said of Ross. "You saw him move a pile tonight. He's 210 pounds. He's very fast. He's a true freshman, and I'm really excited about his future."
Oklahoma State responded with a long drive and a touchdown. Johnson ended the 76-yard march with a two-yard run, and the Cowboys took a 35-17 lead into the fourth.
The Owls got the score back with a drive that bridged the final two quarters and was ended by Ross' third touchdown run -- a three-yard push. But Rice didn't score again, and Dan Bailey added field goals from 28 and 42 yards out to seal the victory.
Oklahoma State hosts Grambling State next Saturday...This was the teams' first meeting since 1923. OSU owns a 3-0-1 lead in the all-time series...Rice out- gained Oklahoma State, 377-351...Jeramy Goodson led the Owls in rushing with 55 yards on 12 carries. Dixon had nine catches for 120 yards...Toston had 75 yards on the ground for the Cowboys.
09/20 00:51:19 ET