MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — You’ve got to hand it to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are finding new ways to win over and above simply winning back-and-forth aerial shows every week.
A week after grinding out a 13-10 overtime win against Texas, No. 11 Oklahoma State leaned on a ball-hawking defense and punishing ground game to stave off a West Virginia rally and remain in the College Football Playoff picture with a 50-39 victory at rainy Milan Puskar Stadium.
The Cowboys (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) forced five West Virginia turnovers, and two of the Mountaineers’ four touchdowns didn’t come against the Oklahoma State defense. The Mountaineers (5-3, 3-2 in Big 12) scored on a blocked punt and interception return in the third quarter to close within 30-24, but the Cowboys pulled away in the fourth quarter to win their fourth straight game.
Oklahoma State has made a living lighting up scoreboards under Mike Gundy and putting up staggering passing numbers, but Glenn Spencer’s defense is a big reason this might be one of Gundy’s most balanced teams. Oklahoma State’s defense hasn’t allowed more than two touchdowns in any of its past three games. The Cowboys completely shut down the Mountaineers’ running game and kept them in third-and-long most of the game.
Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph threw a pair of touchdown passes to increase his season total to 21, but the Cowboys were able to play keep-away from the Mountaineers by running the football. Justice Hill, the Big 12’s leading rusher was injured on his second carry and missed the most of the next three quarters. Freshman J.D King stepped in, though, and was a battering ram with 142 rushing yards on 36 carries. Hill was able to return in the second half, adding to Oklahoma State’s 246 rushing yards for the game.
West Virginia quarterback Will Grier came into the game having thrown five touchdown passes in each of his past two games, but his only two scoring strikes Saturday came in the fourth quarter, the final one in the final minutes when the outcome had already been decided.
Oklahoma State has three of its next four games at home, beginning with the Bedlam matchup against Oklahoma next week.