Coming off a close win over Texas in Austin last week, Oklahoma State needed to work on a few things. In a game in which the Cowboys should have been able to find some offensive success somewhere, the Longhorns were ruthless in their approach. Oklahoma State managed to put up only 13 points last week, so coming into today’s matchup with West Virginia, the Cowboys knew they needed to do better offensively.
Unfortunately, Oklahoma State got off to a pretty rough start. After Justice Hill broke loose for a 39-yard run on the first play of the game, he took a hard hit and fumbled the ball on the second play, which West Virginia recovered. The defense did well and forced the Mountaineers to punt, but then on the next possession, backup running back and true freshman J.D. King fumbled the ball, which West Virginia also recovered.
Fortunately for Oklahoma State, the defense was locked in early as Cowboy safety Ramon Richard picked off Mountaineer quarterback Will Grier on the first play of the drive. Oklahoma State would put together a solid drive, and Mason Rudolph would find James Washington for a 13-yard touchdown pass, which was setup by a huge block by Cowboy receiver Dillon Stoner to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.
The Oklahoma State defense would continue with its domination as they forced West Virginia into a 3-and-out. The Cowboys would then put together a 14-play, 77-yard drive that ended with Mason Rudolph faking a handoff and then running the ball into the endzone himself, making history in the process by being responsible for the most touchdowns in school history. The snap on the PAT was mishandled, so the Cowboys would finish the first quarter with a 13-0 lead.
West Virginia was in desperate need of a score, so they marched all the way into Cowboy territory to get into the red zone. Oklahoma State’s defense would hold at the goal line, forcing the Mountaineers to kick a short field goal to make it 13-3 in favor of the Cowboys. Oklahoma State would quickly answer by getting into the red zone, but the Mountaineer defense would hold as the Cowboys were forced to kick a field goal of their own, bringing the score to 16-3.
West Virginia and Oklahoma State would trade off possessions that ended in punts before the Mountaineers would fumble and lose the ball on their own 20. Mason Rudolph handed off to J.D. King, who scampered all 20 yards into the end zone to make it 23-3.
The Mountaineers and the Cowboys would trade off punts again before West Virginia took over with under two minutes to go in the first half. Will Grier completed a 36-yard pass to put West Virginia in the red zone once again, and this time, the Mountaineers would run the ball in at the goal line. The touchdown would make it 23-10 in favor of Oklahoma State headed into halftime.
West Virginia came out in the second half with a little bit of momentum from the end of the second quarter, but they were still desperate for some points. On just the third play of the possession, however, Will Grier threw an interception because his receiver had no idea the ball was coming to him. A.J. Green was the one that came up with the ball. Mason Rudolph would then quickly lead the Cowboys down the field to get into the red zone before finding J.D. King on a short pass for a touchdown to give Oklahoma State a 30-10 lead. The touchdown pass would be another record set by Rudolph on the day as he became the new passing touchdown leader for Oklahoma State with 76 total in his career.
The next few possessions for both teams were a giant mess as West Virginia had to punt twice and Will Grier threw his third interception of the day, while the Oklahoma State offense did absolutely nothing with the opportunities they were given as they fumbled, missed a field goal, and were forced to punt. Oklahoma State punter Zach Sinor stood in his own end zone, and right as he went to let the ball fly, the punt was blocked, and the Mountaineers recovered to score a touchdown and bring them a little bit closer. The Cowboys led 30-17.
On the very next possession for Oklahoma State, Mason Rudolph felt pressure in the backfield, and he let the ball fly right into a defender’s hands. West Virginia defensive back Kenny Robinson would return the interception for a touchdown to bring the score even closer as Oklahoma State led by a score of 30-24. In desperate need of an answer, the Cowboys were forced to punt after they failed to get a first down, but the defense held and forced West Virginia to punt as well.
The Cowboys finally put something together on offense as Justice Hill came back in for his first snaps since he left on the second play of the game due to injury. Rudolph and Hill orchestrated a 9-play, 48-yard drive which ended in a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Hill to make it 37-24.
West Virginia still had plenty of momentum, but as they looked to score on the following possession, Will Grier threw his fourth interception of the game, which was picked off by A.J. Green for his second of the day. Oklahoma State took advantage of the opportunity as Rudolph found James Washington in the end zone two plays later to push the Cowboys ahead 43-24 after a failed two-point conversion.
West Virginia would score on their next two possessions, but it was too little too late, as Oklahoma State also scored another touchdown, and the Cowboys would come away with a 50-39 victory on a rainy day in Morgantown. The win was Mason Rudolph’s 29th of his career, making him the winningest quarterback in Oklahoma State history.
3 Quick Thoughts
- This Defense Can Make Plays: Before two late touchdowns for the Mountaineers, the Oklahoma State defense held one of the top offenses in the nation to just 10 points through three and a half quarters. More importantly, the Cowboys forced West Virginia into five turnovers (one fumble lost and four interceptions). The Mountaineers came into today’s game averaging 539.4 yards per game (364.0 passing yards per game and 175.4 rushing yard per game), which was 6th in the NCAA. Oklahoma State held West Virginia to just 347 yards of total offense (285 yards passing and 62 yards rushing). The defensive line controlled much of the game, and the Mountaineers could not find much, if any, success.
- The Passing Game Gets the Attention, but the Running Game is Solid: The Cowboys struggled to get anything going on the ground last week against Texas, but that was more of the exception rather than the rule. Today, Oklahoma State racked up 246 yards on the ground, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, and they scored four rushing touchdowns. If the Cowboys can continue to find success on the ground, that will open up the passing game, making this offense even more dangerous.
- The Special Teams are Awful: Oklahoma State has not been that good on special teams for years now, but this year’s version of the kicking and returning game might be its worse in a long time. Today alone the Cowboys had a punt blocked for a touchdown, a missed field goal, and a missed PAT. West Virginia kicked mostly squib kicks in an attempt to cause chaos, and as a result, Oklahoma State was unable to create any real return. While the lack of success in special teams didn’t end up altering the end result of the game, it could be an issue come next week against a well-rounded team like Oklahoma.
Bedlam is Next
Next week is the game that many Oklahomans have been waiting for as the Cowboys will host the Sooners in Stillwater. Oklahoma owns the all-time record 86-18-7, and Mike Gundy is 2-10 against the Sooners, but Oklahoma State has won 2 of the last 6 meetings. Kickoff is set for 3 PM, and the game will be televised on FS1.