It is most certainly that time of the year again. Now that the bowl lineup has been situated, learning what players will choose to skip out on the bowl fun in order to focus on their plans and training for the NFL Draft is already underway. The news continued Monday with the announcement from Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill saying he is calling it a career with the Cowboys and preparing himself for the NFL Draft process rather than participate in the upcoming Liberty Bowl with Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy addressed the news on his own Twitter account after being asked about the updates earlier in the day.
Hill shared his decision on his Twitter account with a lengthy message to Oklahoma State fans and thanked them and coaches for everything he has enjoyed the past few years with the program. Hil’s decision was not to be totally unexpected given he had been banged up down the stretch of this season and missed a couple of games to close out the regular season.
The news didn’t stop there for Oklahoma State though. Starting right guard Larry Williams is also passing on the bowl game this year. Williams started all 12 games for the Cowboys this season and was playing on a sixth year of eligibility.
Oklahoma State will face Missouri in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.
It was another week with a bit of an offensive back-and-forth for No. 15 Oklahoma State (8-2, 5-2 Big 12), and this time they came out on top of a wild one. The Cowboys managed to pull through in the fourth quarter to secure a 49-42 win at No. 21 Iowa State (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) to keep their Big 12 championship hopes alive.
The wild fourth quarter began with none other than Allen Lazard coming up with an incredible touchdown catch. As the ball soared to the endzone, Lazard tipped the ball with his left hand with a defender on him, and he caught the ball with his right hand as he fell to the ground for the go-ahead score.
The Lazard touchdown gave Iowa State a 35-31 lead, and Oklahoma State had to settle for a field goal on the ensuing possession to create a one-point game. A little more than a minute later, Iowa State expanded their lead to eight points on a 14-yard run by David Montgomery after a couple of big passes by Zeb Noland to Trever Ryen and an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Cowboys moved the ball quickly down the field. Oklahoma State responded once more by orchestrating a 75-yard drive for a touchdown. Mason Rudolph connected in the endzone with Marcell Ateman form 30 yards out on a 3rd and 22. After a couple of holding penalties in the endzone on two-point conversion attempts by the Pokes, Justice Hill powered his way in for a short pick-up to tie the game at 42-42 with just under six minutes to play.
Oklahoma State took the lead on a 19-yard pass from Rudolph to Dillon Stoner with 3:47 to play. Iowa State moved the ball into the red zone in the final minutes, but Oklahoma State picked off a pass in the endzone and had the instant replay booth uphold the call when it appeared there might have been simultaneous possession between Oklahoma State’s A.J. Green and Iowa State receiver Marchie Murdock.
Oklahoma State has already lost games to both Oklahoma and TCU, the frontrunners in the Big 12 championship game hunt. Even though the Sooners and Horned Frogs play today to guarantee one of them loses, Oklahoma State still must keep the pressure on and hope for some help around the conference these next few weeks.
Iowa State might have seen a chance to play for the Big 12 championship fall through the cracks in their home finale. Iowa State will wrap up the season on the road with back-to-back games at Baylor and Kansas State. One win is needed to clinch Iowa State’s first winning season since 2009.
Iowa State got off to a great start in yet another key Big 12 game, but Justice Hill and the Oklahoma State offense roared back with 21 straight points. But a late touchdown push by Iowa State sends this pivotal Big 12 game to halftime knotted at 21-21.
Allen Lazard did not waste much time having an impact on the game. Five minutes into the game, Lazard got his hands on a 14-yard touchdown pass to put the Cyclones on the board. After Iowa State’s defense forced a three-and-out on Oklahoma State’s first offensive series of the game, the Cyclone offense went back to work with another methodical drive, traveling 64 yards on eight plays for another touchdown to go up 14-0. David Montgomery capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run.
Perhaps going down 14-0 was the wakeup call Oklahoma State needed. On the ensuing possession, the Cowboys got on the board with a 21-yard pass from Mason Rudolph to Marcell Ateman. After forcing a three-and-out, and taking over at the Iowa State 32-yard line, Hill scored a 9-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter. Another three-and-out by the Cyclones led to another touchdown drive by Oklahoma State, with Hill once again capping the drive with a run to the end zone.
Iowa State tied things up in the final minute of the first half when Joel Lanning, the 6′-2″ 230 lb. quarterback, stepped in at quarterback for q short-yardage push at the goal line. It worked as Lanning and the Cyclones muscled forward for the touchdown on the ground.
A win by Iowa State will keep the Cyclones in the running to make the Big 12 championship game, thank in large part to head-to-head tiebreaker with both Oklahoma and TCU. If they can get one more this afternoon against Oklahoma State, that would be huge. Oklahoma State also needs this win to stay in the Big 12 title hunt as well. Stay tuned for a wild second half.
The stage is nearly set for a massive Bedlam game next week. No. 11 Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) overcame a sloppy start on offense and rallied when West Virginia (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) started to make some noise to be able to leave Morgantown with a 50-39 victory in a game that featured nine turnovers. The win on the road keeps Oklahoma State in the thick of the Big 12 championship hunt with a big one coming up next week.
Oklahoma State’s defense had to answer the call early on by holding down West Virginia following two early fumbles by Oklahoma State running backs Justice Hill and J.D. King. Not being able to score any points off those early turnovers would set the tone for the game for West Virginia. Needing to play a clean game against the Cowboys, West Virginia failed to net any point son three turnovers before finally managing to make some plays with a blocked punt in the end zone for a score and a pick-six just moments away in the third quarter. The flurry of non-offensive touchdowns cut into a sizable Oklahoma State lead, trimming a 20-point deficit to a six-point margin But in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys got their offense rolling once again and the defense did their part as well.
West Virginia quarterback Will Grier was picked off four times in the game and he struggled to connect with his receivers all game long. Oklahoma State closed well on defense for the majority of the game and never let West Virginia get a good chance to get their hands on the ball through the air. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph passed for 216 yards and three touchdowns, with James Washington scoring two of those touchdowns. Hill left the game in the first quarter to be evaluated for head and neck injuries and a lower leg injury, but he later returned to the game. In his absence, King overcame his early turnover to power Oklahoma State on the ground with 149 rushing yards and a score.
Now, all eyes can properly be set on next week’s big home game against the Oklahoma Sooners. And the impact this one will have on the Big 12 championship picture cannot be overstated. The loser of this game likely falls out of the Big 12 championship hunt with a second loss in conference play. That would be a bit of a far cry from the preseason expectations of a possible Bedlam rematch in the Big 12 championship game, but the stakes for next week will remain high regardless. The loser is also falling off the playoff radar entirely while the winner keeps the dream alive.
Oklahoma State has lost two in a row to the Sooners and four of the last five meetings. Oklahoma State’s last win against the Sooners was in 2014, and the last time they won in Stillwater was 2011. Next week’s clash at Oklahoma State is slated for 4:00 p.m. ET.
West Virginia will host Iowa State next Saturday. The Cyclones will be coming off a home game against TCU.
The beginning of the game in cold and dreary Morgantown could not have started any better for West Virginia’s defense, but the Mountaineers were unable to take advantage of two fumble recoveries in the first five minutes of the game, and now West Virginia trails Oklahoma State at halftime, 23-10.
Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill ripped a 39-yard run on the first play of the game but then fumbled on the next play. Hill also left the game to be evaluated for head and neck pain and a left leg injury. He has not returned to the game. His backup, J.D. King fumbled away the ball on Oklahoma State’s second possession of the game. After each turnover, the Cowboys defense answered the call by forcing a punt after the first fumble and coming up with an interception of Will Grier on the first play after the King fumble. Those missed opportunities, along with having to settle for a field goal from the Oklahoma State six-yard line, could come back to haunt the Mountaineers at home.
The combination of Mason Rudolph to James Washington got the Pokes in the endzone and on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter, and a Rudolph touchdown run from one yard out later in the first quarter gave Oklahoma State a 13-0 lead (a botched hold on an extra point cost Oklahoma State one point. Later in the second quarter, King made up for his earlier fumble by running straight up the gut of the West Virginia defense for a 20-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage after the Cowboys recovered a West Virginia fumble.
West Virginia managed to score a touchdown in the final minute of the half with Kennedy McKoy managing to cross the goal line for a tough one-yard score. It was tough because the exchange between Grier and McKoy was nothing but awkward.