(TNS) — On a Saturday when Army almost beat Oklahoma and when Texas may finally be turning a mocking internet meme into reality, Texas Tech reset Big 12 conventional wisdom more than anyone.
The Red Raiders' 41-17 win over Oklahoma State was stunning on a number of levels. Oklahoma State was expected to again contend in the Big 12, especially after a 3-0 start and a dominating win over Boise State. Plus, the Cowboys had dominated Tech with nine straight victories.
The game was supposed to mark the beginning of the end for Tech's hopes of a successful season and, most likely, the end of coach Kliff Kingsbury's tenure, with No. 12 West Virginia and a trip to TCU next on the schedule.
Now that may be as accurate as Flat Earth Theory.
"It's pretty simple," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "We got outcoached, outplayed and they were a lot tougher than us. I don't really know any other way to put it."
Maybe Texas Tech (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) will still be exposed during the Big 12 season. Still, all the trends are in the right direction after the opening loss to Ole Miss, one reason Tech is ranked No. 25 in Sunday's latest AP poll.
—The return of Jah'Shawn Johnson. Tech's defense was supposed to be a strength this year after showing significant improvement in 2017. The Red Raiders looked more like their bad old selves early, in part because Johnson missed the first three games with a lingering shoulder injury.
The preseason all-Big 12 pick returned against Oklahoma State with five tackles, a sack, a quarterback hurry and major presence. Tech limited Oklahoma State to 35 points and 204 yards below its season averages.
"Getting Jah'Shawn back allowed some calmness to set back in," Kingsbury said. "He's a four-year starter and one of the best players in the conference. Adding him back added leadership and play-making ability and that helped."
—Alan Bowman is still impressing. The freshman in name only from Grapevine continued to play like a veteran. He did throw two interceptions, including his first in 151 attempts as a collegian, but he threw for 397 yards and two touchdowns in a tough road environment.
Teammates are believing.
"We noticed when he stepped into the first game how poised he was," receiver Ja'Deion High said. "He came in as a freshman, it was a big game to come into and he showed that poise through all three games and stepped up tonight."
—It's not just Bowman. Tech is getting plenty of contributions from young players.
The offensive line that held off Oklahoma State's pass rush has four underclassmen as starters. Leading rusher Ta'Zhawn Henry (231 yards, six touchdowns) is a freshman. Three of the four top receivers are underclassmen, led by junior Antoine Wesley (30 catches, 511 yards, four touchdowns).
At this rate, a bowl bid is realistic and things look bright going forward.
Still wearing the beard he started growing at the start of the three-game win streak, Kingsbury was in a joking mood afterward, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. He even laughed off a question about Oklahoma State as a must-win game.
"Nah. I've been in some must-wins, now," Kingsbury told the paper. "That one at the end of last year [at Texas] was a must-win."
Takeaways from the Big 12:
— Texas cracked the AP Top 25 at No. 18, its highest ranking since being ranked 11th after a 2-0 start in 2016. Oklahoma dropped one spot, to sixth, after being forced to overtime by Army before winning 28-21.
— In a rare display by his standards, Kansas State's Bill Snyder strongly criticized his players after a 35-6 loss to West Virginia. In particular, Snyder was incensed about a failed fourth down try in the second quarter. "I can't coach a team that can't get six inches on a play," Snyder said.
— Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray was named the Walter Camp FBS Defensive Player of the Week. In OU's win over Army and its rushing offense, Murray had a school-record 28 tackles.