Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius has made an unexpected impression as a runner.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound senior looks like he's lumbering his way down the field, but he's tough and surprisingly agile and fast. Last Saturday, he rushed for 41 yards and two touchdowns to help the Cowboys knock off then-No. 17 Boise State 44-21 .
"I think he's comfortable when he's running the ball, when he gets into the flow of the game," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "Like a three-point shooter in basketball — hits a couple threes, gets hot and you give it to him and he starts hitting a few more."
Cornelius has been pretty good throwing the ball too — he has completed 65 percent of his passes for 971 yards and seven touchdowns in three games. Oklahoma State's offense ranks sixth nationally as the 15th-ranked Cowboys (3-0) head into their conference opener Saturday against Texas Tech (2-1).
"A month ago, I said he was on the tee box or the driving range, and we didn't know what he would do on the tee box on No. 1, but he's done pretty well on the first two or three holes," Gundy said. "He's getting into a different part of the course now, and hopefully he'll continue to play well. I think he's developing into being a pretty good college quarterback."
Cornelius will need to be at his best Saturday. Texas Tech enters Saturday's game with the nation's No. 1 offense. Alan Bowman threw for 605 yards and five touchdowns in his second career start, a 63-49 win over Houston . He broke former Texas Tech star Patrick Mahomes' previous Big 12 record for yards passing by a freshman in a game and missed the NCAA freshman yardage record by 6. Since replacing the injured McLane Carter in the first quarter of the season opener, Bowman has passed for 1,160 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions.
"This league will be disappointed to see him for the next three or four years, or however long it'll be," Gundy said. "He seems to understand their system and looks like he gets it. They're moving the ball and scoring lots of points."
Tech has found another star receiver in Antoine Wesley. The 6-foot-5 junior had 13 catches for a school-record 261 yards and three touchdowns against Houston.
"Breakout game," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Unbelievable plays. We got to keep him coming. He's a long ways from where he can be. He knows that. Hopefully that builds some confidence moving forward."
NEXT MAN UP
Tylan Wallace has emerged as the downfield threat that has filled in for Biletnikoff Award winner James Washington. The 6-foot sophomore caught five passes for 105 yards against Boise State a week after catching 10 passes for 166 yards against South Alabama.
RESPECT FOR HILL
Oklahoma State's Justice Hill has rushed for 277 yards and four touchdowns and is averaging 8.2 yards per carry this season.
"He's as good as anybody in the country, I think, as far as a total back," Kingsbury said. "Can catch the ball, finish runs, fast. Has gotten better and better as we've seen him. He's going to be as good of a back as we'll play all year."
Hill has had success against Tech in the past, rushing for 127 yards and a touchdown as a freshman and 165 yards and a score last season as a sophomore.
Texas Tech has lost nine straight to Oklahoma State and hasn't won in Stillwater since 2001.
"It's obviously a tough place to play," Kingsbury said. "I think you ask anybody in the conference, those fans are right on top of you, have a great fan base, a great program. Coach Gundy has built a powerhouse. ... They beat a lot of people there."
The Cowboys lead the nation with 5.33 sacks per game with new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles' aggressive 4-2-5 defense. They pressured Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien all day last Saturday and tallied seven sacks in a 44-21 victory over the Broncos.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP