Oklahoma State nabbed their sixth and biggest win of the season on Saturday with a 45-41 victory over No. 9 West Virginia. While it’s not the highest ranked team OSU has knocked off in Boone Pickens Stadium this season, it’s easily the biggest and most unexpected win of 2018.
And unlike that win over Texas, this team was not a pretender. This was a quarterback who should show up in New York, an incredibly talented group of wide receivers and a team that had a real shot at an historic season.
And yet, Oklahoma State pulled the upset.
There is a lot to digest, and for the first time since Homecoming, it’s going to be a lot of fun to do it.
What just happened?
This was becoming a more popular upset pick the later we got into the week. Part of that was WVU’s history of a November collapse. Heck, Gameday was split with Corso and Herbstreit both picking OSU.
But then came the news pregame that starting center Johnny Wilson, the only offensive lineman that had started every game at the same position all season, was out. So too were Justice Hill and J.D. King. That was a bad omen.
Throw in the fact that the two ways to beat West Virginia up to this point were to shut down their run game or force turnovers, two things Oklahoma State was not doing well.
At kick-off, it felt like the only way Oklahoma State was going to win this game was being able to keep up offensively. And then they were down 31-14 at half.
And yet, the Cowboys won.
After getting down 17 points at halftime the defense stepped up. They held West Virginia to 1.2 yards-per carry in the second-half, forced a turnover in the red-zone, held the Mountaineers scoreless in the third quarter, had an end of game stand and did everything they could to get Oklahoma State back into the game.
Oklahoma State’s offense, when the game was on the line, didn’t fail. They didn’t miss a fourth down. They didn’t miss a two-point conversion. They made play, after play, after play. And every time West Virginia answered to push the score back to ten, the offense answered the call.
Nothing about what happened on Saturday aligned with what this Oklahoma State team has done all season. And yet, on Senior Day, with multiple players out, the season nearing the end, the team went against the odds and got the biggest win of the year.
It was unexpected, unpredictable, and absolutely why you play the game.
Mistakes keep happening
Just like most of the games this season, Oklahoma State played a mistake filled game. Unlike previous games, they were able to overcome them.
Against Baylor, it was 12 penalties. Against Oklahoma it was a late fumble and a missed two-point conversion. Against West Virginia it was four turnovers; two fumbles and two interceptions. Throw in two kick-offs out of bounds by Jake McClure — bringing his season total to seven — and it was all almost too much to overcome.
And yet, somehow the team did just that, overcame it. But the point is, they shouldn’t have to.
Turnovers happen, but three mistakes by the special teams? Those are inexcusable, and just more of the same for OSU. These are the little things this program used to be good at. They’re not anymore. Something has to change (hire a special teams coordinator).
On the plus side, Oklahoma State had a three penalties for 35 yards. I’ll take that every day!
The defense did its job... and then some
That was the best performance we’ve seen from the defense all year. It wasn’t perfect, but it was absolutely more than enough.
Everyone is going to talk about the second half, where in the third quarter alone the defense allowed two West Virginia first downs, held them to zero points and forced a vital turnover inside the Oklahoma State 20.
But the first half was actually a really good performance too.
West Virginia had 10 (!!!) possessions in the first half, three of those were because of OSU turnovers. The Mountaineers scored 17 of their 31 first-half points on drives that started with OSU turnovers. The other seven drives? OSU’s defense held WVU’s offense to just two scores.
Oklahoma State’s defense looked the part against Texas in the first half of that game. They looked the part in the second half against Oklahoma. But this was their shining moment because pretty much after the first drive of the game, they were spectacular. If this is what we can expect from a Jim Knowles coached defense moving forward, I am ALL in.
The secondary was outstanding
Speaking of the defense, Oklahoma State’s secondary wasn’t perfect, but they played a really good game against one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems in the conference. The coverage, especially in the first half was solid. There were numerous situations where Grier, despite having a ton of time, couldn’t find an open receiver down field anywhere.
A.J. Green had a monster game. Part of that, was because the refs let him play physical. When that happens, he’s one of the best, shut-down corners in the conference. David Sills, Grier’s favorite target, had just four catches for 68 yards and one touchdown. That sirs, is a nice performance.
The improvement from week one to now with this secondary is night and day. For OSU fans, you have to feel good realizing that every single player eligible to play on Saturday can return next year to Stillwater.
Chuba is ready to lead the backfield
One of the three best running backs to ever put on orange and black was unavailable for the game, and Oklahoma State didn’t need him to knock off the No. 9 team in the country.
That is not meant as any disrespect to Hill, who is a generational talent. But Chuba on Saturday was amazing. Not only did he wrack up 134 yards on 26 carries and continue to show his speed in the open field, he showed he can muscle his way for the difficult two and three yard gains when the team needs them.
Chuba made some chunk runs tonight, but this may have been his most important. pic.twitter.com/fxh5RvyXwQ— CornDAWG with Mustard (@RobertW_OkSt) November 18, 2018
Whether Justice comes back for another season or not, Oklahoma State should feel really good about their backfield for the next couple of years with Hubbard back there.
Even Justice had to show Chuba some props after the game.
Oh THERE’S Dillon Stoner
The guy most of us thought would be “the guy” at receiver this season, hadn’t done a whole lot this season. His best performance of the year up to this point was a five catch, 70-yard game against Oklahoma the previous week. That changed against West Virginia.
Dillon Stoner led the team with nine receptions for 127 yards. And every one of those yards was earned. With WVU all over Tyron Johnson and Tylan Wallace, Stoner stepped up and played like the guy we expected coming into the season.
Yeah, he had a few moments he probably wished he could get back, but when OSU needed him, he was there. It’s what we expected from Stoner all season, and yes he was banged up a bit. But that was the kind of performance that makes him one of my favorite OSU players to watch.
As far as the 2018 season goes, Tylan Wallace’s Saturday stats were far from his best.
7 catches, 62 yards, 2 touchdowns.
His 62 yards were the second lowest of the season and his 8.9 yards-per-catch was the worst of the year, by far. But what he did with those 62 yards changed the season.
Those two touchdowns were two of the most impressive I’ve seen from him all year, and that’s saying something. The first... I mean how did he come down with that.
Freak show. Tylan for 6. Pokes and Mountaineers tied near the end of the first. pic.twitter.com/8sPWkNmwj0— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) November 17, 2018
But the second? It wasn’t a feat of athleticism or length, it was a show of strength.
Oklahoma State took their first lead of the game over No. 9 West Virginia with 42 seconds left to seal the win! pic.twitter.com/VDqxNWstNa— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 18, 2018
With the defender hanging on him, doing everything in his power to pull Tylan away from the endzone, Wallace pushed his way in the final five yards for the go-ahead score. It was something we hadn’t seen from him so far, but the kind of thing a go-to guy does when his team needs him to.
There are such things as Heisman moments. But if there are Biletnikoff moments, and I know Wallace has had quite a few, that is the one you end the highlight reel with.
Oh Corndog, my Corndog
All that said about Wallace and Stoner, none of it would have happened without everyone’s favorite
punching bag quarterback; Taylor Cornelius.
Yes, he made some boneheaded mistakes, and was lucky to come away from the game with only two interceptions, but good grief, when it mattered, especially late in the game, he was on point. Whether he was running on purpose or for his life, he put the team on his shoulders and got them to the finish line.
And he has been that way for awhile.
Since the bye week, Cornelius is 110-of-174 (63%) for 1,447 yards, 12 touchdowns and two picks. That is an impressive four-game run. Throw in the 106 yards and touchdown he nabbed on the ground, and you have to give the game ball to the former walk on.
Like last week against Oklahoma, with the game on the line, Mike Gundy put the ball into Cornelius’ hands. Things didn’t work out in Bedlam. This time? Cornelius finally showed us what Gundy has been seeing in him since Spring ball. I’m glad we finally got to see it.
This was a great moment
A seriously great moment because 1. watching a cowboy back get a touchdown catch is like spotting a great white elk, and 2. his first career touchdown for Oklahoma State also came on his first career catch.
Logan Carter has one career catch. Logan Carter has one career TD. 21-14 WVU. pic.twitter.com/JZaatFWRId— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) November 17, 2018
Bowl Eligibility Matters
I plan to write more in-depth about this later this week, but this win was more than just a big upset. It extends Oklahoma State’s bowl-streak to 13.
That’s a big deal, and one I don’t think people will appreciate enough because the Cowboys will likely either end up in the Liberty or Cheez It Bowl.
Oklahoma State has the 10th longest-active bowl streak in the nation, up their with the likes of Florida State, Alabama, Oklahoma, and LSU. Now, they’re going to get to keep it going another year.
That’s a point of pride for Mike Gundy and the program and something I think is a bigger selling point to recruits than we probably realize. It’s also something that is incredibly hard to do, and would disappointing if it came to an end.
I don’t care where Oklahoma State goes bowling or who they face. I’m just glad to know that we are now guaranteed two more games to watch these guys take field this year.