Oklahoma State (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) was in danger of letting a 17-point lead evaporate in the second half against No. 10 West Virginia (6-1, 3-1 Big 12), but the Cowboys held on and pulled away to hand the Mountaineers their first loss of the season, 37-20. The result may effectively put another nail in the coffin for the Big 12’s playoff hopes and also adds another ingredient to the Big 12 championship picture.
West Virginia pulled to within seven points of Oklahoma State in the fourth quarter when Skyler Howard ran 12 yards to the end zone for a score and Mike Molina kicked a short 21-yard field goal after Oklahoma State went three-and-out in between. Oklahoma State then flipped a switch to put the game away with an answering touchdown drive (Mason Rudolph to Chris Lacy) and an interception of Howard that ultimately led to a field goal by Ben Grogan for a little more breathing room. West Virginia would run out of time from there.
West Virginia committed three turnovers in the game, which led to 17 points for Oklahoma State. The two Oklahoma State touchdowns off turnovers also only had to travel a combined 17 yards, and the field goal came on a 4th and goal from the six-yard line (following a delay of game penalty). Turnovers have a way of influencing a game, and they certainly had an impact in the decision of this Big 12 tilt.
It is the first time West Virginia has taken a loss, and it may be another tough blow to the Big 12’s playoff hopes. As it stands right now, the big 12 likely needs Baylor to run the table the rest of the way, because Oklahoma already has two losses, as does Oklahoma State. One loss is not quite an official eliminator for West Virginia, and they do get two of their toughest remaining games at home (Oklahoma and Baylor), but the path to the College Football Playoff for a second straight season is getting more treacherous for the Big 12 without getting help elsewhere.
Oklahoma State now is in the Big 12 hunt, which is not a huge shock. Oklahoma State does have a head-to-head loss against Baylor, but they will play Oklahoma in the final game of the regular season. The Big 12 could potentially be on the line in that game, which should create quite a raucous atmosphere in Norman on December 3. But Oklahoma State heads to Kansas State first next week and still has Texas Tech and TCU to get through first.
West Virgina will look to bounce back next week at home against Kansas.