What looked like it could setup to be a bit of an offensive showcase has instead been a much more defensive battle than expected. Oklahoma State’s upset bid against No. 10 West Virginia is one half closer to completion, with the Cowboys taking a 20-10 lead on the visiting Mountaineers in Stillwater. A key turnover by West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard led to a go-ahead score for Oklahoma State.
West Virginia and Oklahoma State exchanged field goals on the first two possessions of the game, and the Cowboys took a 6-3 lead on their second offensive series with a second field goal from Ben Grogan. West Virginia scored the first touchdown of the afternoon when Shelton Gibson stretched to bring in a 19-yard pass in the end zone from Howard.
Howard has generally been reliable for West Virginia, but he lost the football while being sacked by Vincent Taylor deep in his own end, giving Oklahoma State the football at the West Virginia eight-yard line. Two plays later, Mason Rudolph completed a pass to Chris Lacy for a 13-10 lead. Oklahoma State added to the lead on their next offensive possession, after West Virginia missed a field goal. The 15-play drive ended with Rudolph connecting with Jalen McCleskey for a short touchdown play, putting the home team up 20-10.
Oklahoma State (3-2, 101 Big 12) had the look of a Big 12 contender Saturday afternoon against No. 22 Texas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12). It also looked like Texas still has a long way to go to play up to the level Charlie Strong would prefer in Austin. Oklahoma State and Texas played a wild second half with four lead exchanges, but it was the Cowboys who took control of the Big 12 contest in the second half en route to a 49-31 victory.
Mason Rudolph passed for 392 yards and three touchdowns without an interception for Oklahoma State. Jalen McCleskey was on the receiving end for 109 of those yards and two of the touchdowns and Justice Hill led the Oklahoma State ground game with 137 yards and a touchdown. Barry Sanders Jr. also contributed a touchdown on the ground. As a team, Oklahoma State rolled up 557 yards of offense and converted seven of 15 third down plays against Texas. The Longhorns have looked shabby on defense this season, and this was just the latest example of how far off Strong’s defense is from where he would like to see it.
Oklahoma State’s defense gave up some big plays and yards as well. Texas actually out-gained Oklahoma State with 568 yards, including an astounding 329 on the ground. But the Longhorns had the one turnover of the game and could not find a way to stop Oklahoma State every time it looked as though Texas could seize momentum.
Texas running back D'Onta Foreman was forced to leave the game with an injury in the third quarter. He went down without contact after taking a handoff, clutching his right rib and going down voluntarily before being touched by an Oklahoma State defender. Before his awkward exit, Foreman had rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Oklahoma State’s James Washington was also knocked out of the game following a big hit, but Gundy said after the game he expects Washington will be available next week.
This was Oklahoma State’s first home win against Texas since 1997. The Longhorns had won eight straight meetings in Stillwater. All but one of those wins had come by a double-digit margin. Oklahoma State will look to keep the good vibes going next week with another home game. This time, Iowa State comes to town after suffering a gut-wrenching loss at home this afternoon against Baylor. Iowa State blew a 14-point lead and lost on a game-winning field goal by the Bears.
It will not get easier next week for Texas as the Red River
Shootout Rivalry gets fired up in Cotton Bowl Stadium next week at the state fair in Dallas. Texas shocked Oklahoma last year, seemingly boosting Strong’s job security at least a little bit. Will he need some magic once again this season to defeat the Sooners?