The 100th edition of America’s Greatest Homecoming is set to take place this weekend, so it’s a great time to look back at some of the best games the weekend has seen.
Special thanks to Matthew W. for taking the time to give me this idea and doing a hefty amount of the research for it. A few things to note, I tried to mix eras with some limitations. It’s hard to go too far back with little documentation aside from the score on certain games (ex: No. 11 OSU’s 12-6 win over No. 19 Tulsa in 1945). With that said, here are the five best homecoming games in OSU’s history.
1. 1997 vs. Colorado
Result: W, 33-29
Colorado started the 1997 season ranked eighth in the AP Poll after going 10-2 in 1996. The Cowboys, meanwhile, were coming off a 5-6 season under Bob Simmons but entered their homecoming clash with Colorado at 6-0, having beaten Iowa State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Fresno State, Northeast Louisiana and Texas.
With less than five minutes to play and the Pokes trailing 29-26, OSU quarterback Tony Lindsay fumbled inside the Buffaloes 10-yard line, and Colorado recovered. But, the Cowboys’ defense took it right back when Maurice Simpson intercepted a John Hessler pass at the 23-yard line.
That play set up an all-timer when Lindsay rolled to his right and hit Alonzo Mayes in the end zone to give the Pokes their 33-29 victory.
After a bye week, the Cowboys climbed to No. 12 in the AP Poll before back-to-back weekends of heartbreak. OSU fell to Missouri 51-50 in double-OT before losing to Texas A&M 28-25 in OT. OSU finished the season 7-4, falling to Purdue in the Alamo Bowl.
2. 2018 vs. Texas
Result: W, 38-35
Texas came to Stillwater as the No. 6 team in the country before a game that saw Tylan Wallace go nuclear, Taylor Cornelius grind out a W and Tom Herman lose his mind in the middle of Boone Pickens Stadium.
Cornelius threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns. As was the case all season, Wallace was Cornelius’ primary target. Wallace caught 10 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. OSU also fared well in the rushing department. Justice Hill had 92 yards, Chuba Hubbard had 80 yards and Cornelius ran for two touchdowns.
The Cowboys were lined up to take a knee with less than a minute to play when Tyron Johnson put an over-aggressive Breckyn Hager on his rear end. Mike Gundy ran onto the field in an attempt to keep his guys back so a fight didn’t break out, and Herman followed that up by going after Gundy. Then came the iconic shot of Gundy hyping up the crowd.
3. 2007 vs. Kansas State
Result: W, 41-39
Nothing was guaranteed in the early years of Gundy’s tenure, but OSU’s young coach got a signature win against No. 25 K-State in 2007.
It was a slugfest from the opening kickoff. K-State jumped out to a 14-0 lead before a freshman Dez Bryant caught one of his two touchdowns of the day. Jordy Nelson made it 21-7, K-State with a 46-yard TD, his second of the day (he finished with three). Then Parrish Cox returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a score.
The shots continued into the fourth quarter. Zac Robinson hit Brandon Pettigrew for a 39-yard touchdown with 4:09 to play, giving OSU a 38-31 lead.
K-State drove back down, and Leon Patton scored on an 11-yard run with 1:10 to go, making the game 38-37, OSU. The Wildcats went for 2 and got it with a pass to (who else?) Nelson.
Tommy Devereaux gave the Pokes good field position with a 29-yard kick return. Robinson had 1:04 to drive OSU down the field, and that’s what he did (in tandem with Dantrell Savage). The Pokes got down to K-State’s 9-yard line to set up a Jason Ricks game-winner.
4. 1976 vs. Missouri
Result: W, 20-19
Terry Miller is one of the older generation of Cowboy fans’ all-time favorites, but unfortunately there isn’t a ton of film on him for the younger generations to educate themselves on.
At 4-2, OSU entered its 1976 homecoming clash ranked 16th in the AP Poll. At 5-2, the Tigers came to Stillwater as the No. 10 team in America.
According to the AP wire story from that day, Missouri built a 16-0 lead in the third quarter. But then Miller brought the Pokes back. Miller had touchdown runs of 23 and 2 yards to make it 16-14. Then Miller scored from 10 yards out to give the Pokes the win in the fourth quarter. He finished with 229 rushing yards.
5. 2002 vs. Texas A&M
Result: W, 28-23
This game didn’t have the highest of stakes, but it was a fun one. OSU entered 3-4, and A&M was 5-3 after starting the season ranked 23rd in the AP Poll.
The Aggies struck first, but it was all Cowboys for the remainder of the first half, thanks in large part to Tatum Bell. Bell ended the contest with 25 carries for 143 yards and three touchdowns.
Oklahoma State took a 28-14 lead into the half, and A&M started chipping away. It was 28-23 entering the fourth quarter. A&M started its final drive with 4:29 to play. The Aggies drove to the Cowboys’ 31-yard line with 1:10 to play when A&M QB Dustin Long threw a ball to the end zone that bounced out of wide receiver Bethel Johnson’s hands and into the arms of Vernon Grant, who took a knee and proceeded to get dogpiled.
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