Trailing 28-21 early in the fourth quarter and frustrated by Iowa State’s ball-control offense, Oklahoma State needed a big play.
So the Cowboys turned to Barry Sanders, and he delivered.
Sanders sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown with 14:04 left to tie the score and start a comeback that carried 13th-ranked Oklahoma State to a 49-28 victory Saturday at Ames, Iowa.
“I think the turning point was when the best player in college football made an 80-yard touchdown run,” Oklahoma State Coach Pat Jones said. “Barry Sanders broke things open.
“The Iowa State defense 4-yarded us to death most of the game, but then the decision-makers decided the game.”
It was 1 of 4 touchdowns Sanders scored in running for 293 yards to set a Big Eight Conference single-season rushing record.
Sanders raised his NCAA season touchdown record to 33; set a national record for all-purpose yardage and moved to within 47 yards of breaking the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. one-season rushing record by Marcus Allen.
The Cowboys play Texas Tech in Tokyo Dec. 4.
Sanders has run for 2,296 yards and compiled 2,897 all-purpose yards--rushing, returning kicks and catching passes. That breaks the national all-purpose record of 2,633 yards, set by Temple’s Paul Palmer in 1986.
Sanders is averaging 289.7 all-purpose yards and seems a cinch to break the oldest NCAA record: an average of 246.3 all-purpose yards set by Colorado’s Byron (Whizzer) White in 1937.
The Cowboys, 8-2 overall, secured third place in the Big Eight at 5-2 and accepted a bid to play Wyoming in the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
Sanders said there was no secret to his game-breaking touchdown, which came on a sweep around left end after he took a pitchout from quarterback Mike Gundy.
“Mike pitched the ball at the perfect time, and (fullback) Garrett Limbrick got his block and all I had to do was outrun everyone,” Sanders said.
Iowa State’s Tim Baker closed the gap on Sanders and dove for him at the 10-yard line but missed.
“I thought he had a pretty good chance to catch me,” Sanders said. “I felt my legs tightening up. I just tried my best to make it to the end zone.”
Gundy threw an 11-yard pass to Hart Lee Dykes for the go-ahead touchdown with 6:44 left, and the Cowboys added late scores on an 11-yard run by Sanders and a 4-yarder by Limbrick to break it open.
“It was our ballgame, but over the years, the Cyclones have played us tough and this was no exception,” Jones said. “When we came in here, we knew that this would be a tough ballgame. We planned on it. This was an immensely huge win for us.”
Before his 80-yard run, Iowa State had contained Sanders as well as anyone, mainly because the Cyclones’ offense kept the ball for long periods. Iowa State had an 18-minute edge in possession time and outgained Oklahoma State 417 yards to 416.
Sanders, who carried 32 times, also scored on runs of 4 and 25 yards.
Sanders, a 5-foot 8-inch, 197-pound junior, broke the Big Eight’s season rushing record of 2,148 yards by Nebraska’s Mike Rozier in 1983.
Oklahoma State’s Cary Blanchard kicked 7 extra points without a miss, giving him an NCAA-record 61 straight this season. Oklahoma’s Tim Lashar held the record of 60 straight extra points in a season.
Dykes also caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Gundy on Oklahoma State’s first possession of the game and now has a Big Eight-record 12 touchdown receptions this year. The mark was 11 by Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers.
In addition, Dykes became the Big Eight’s single-season reception yardage leader with his 6 catches for 83 yards. He has 1,217 yards this fall, topping the mark of 1,154 by Bobby Johnson of Kansas.
Iowa State finished 5-6 and 3-4.
Colorado 56, Kansas St. 14--J.J. Flannigan rushed for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half, and backup quarterback Marc Walters threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes as the Freedom Bowl-bound Buffaloes crushed the winless Wildcats at Boulder, Colo.
The Buffaloes, who will play Brigham Young in the Dec. 29 bowl at Anaheim, raised their overall record to 8-3--their best since 1976--and finished at 4-3 in the Big Eight.
Kansas State, playing its final game under Coach Stan Parrish, who resigned last month, suffered its second straight winless season and ended the year at 0-11 and 0-7.
Missouri 55, Kansas 17--Tim Bruton and Smiley Elmore scored 2 touchdowns apiece at Lawrence, Kan., to lead the Tigers past the Jayhawks in what could be Woody Widenhofer’s last game as Missouri’s coach.
The victory closed out Missouri’s year at 3-7-1 and leaves Widenhofer with a 4-year mark of 12-31-1. The Missouri administration said it will review the coaching situation at the end of the season, and Widenhofer has hinted that he expects to be fired.
Missouri’s other victories this season were 35-21 against Utah State and 52-21 over Kansas State.
Kansas finished its first year under Glen Mason at 1-10, its only victory a 30-12 conquest of winless Kansas State.
HEISMAN-BOUND? A game-by-game look at the rushing statistics of Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders, who became only the third Division I-A player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in one season. Sanders has one game remaining, Dec. 4 against Texas Tech. Marcus Allen of USC gained 2,342 yards in 1981, and Mike Rozier of Nebraska gained 2,148 yards in 1983.
Opp. Car. Yds. Avg. TD Miami (Ohio) 18 178 9.9 2 Texas A&M; 20 157 7.8 2 Tulsa 33 304 9.2 5 Colorado 24 174 7.2 4 Nebraska 35 189 5.4 4 Missouri 25 154 6.2 2 Kansas St. 37 320 8.6 3 Oklahoma 39 215 5.5 2 Kansas 37 312 8.4 5 Iowa St. 32 293 9.2 4 Totals 300 2,296 7.7 33