No. 22 Oklahoma State, currently alone in second place in the Big 12, faces another challenge Saturday in a game at Kansas State.
The Cowboys (6-2, 4-1 in the Big 12) trail only Oklahoma in the conference race after they raced past then-No. 10 West Virginia, 37-20, in Stillwater. The Pokes kick off at 2:30 p.m. in Manhattan Saturday.
“That was a really good win for our team,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said after the win over the Mountaineers. “The most complete game that we’ve played this year.
“I had mentioned that there were times where each of the three phases played better than the others, and a couple of times this year maybe considerably better than the others. Special teams has been really good for us throughout the year and I thought today our special teams was excellent. Our coverage units were excellent, our punter was excellent. We missed one field goal, but our return game was good. If you’re sound in special teams and you don’t turn the ball over, then you get a chance each week.”
Gundy won his 100th game, which makes him one of only seven active FBS coaches with at least 100 wins at their current school. The other six are Bill Snyder, Bob Stoops, Gary Patterson, Kirk Ferentz, Nick Saban and Kyle Whittingham.
“It’s special for all of us,” Gundy said. “For me to say that 100 wins isn’t special for me would not be fair because it means that we’re doing well here and having success. The players know that at the end of the day, we’re responsible for putting out a product that fans and people around the country want to see. They’re exciting, they play the game the right way, they graduate in four years, then they go out in society with character and substance to them and be productive. That’s really what our goal is. They know that. That far outweighs an individual 100-win accomplishment.”
“It was definitely a historic moment for coach and the university,” said safety Jordan Sterns. “It was important for him. We came out and played one of our better games, in all aspects. It all came together. It feels good to get that win for him and to beat an undefeated team on homecoming. It means a lot.
“Everyone was fired up. There were guys making big time plays today. Kevin Henry had a huge interception. Ramon Richards was in the zone all day. Everyone stepped up on defense.”
In the second quarter, Vincent Taylor recorded a sack and forced a fumble that was recovered by Cole Walterscheid, marking OSU’s ninth fumble recovery of the year. That ranks among the 10 best nationally. Taylor added another sack on third down on WVU’s opening drive of the second half and a half sack later to bring his career total to 9.5 and his season total to 4.5. WVU entered the game ranked 29th nationally with 1.5 sacks allowed per game. The Cowboys had 4.5 sacks.
“Well this one is pretty simple,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorson. “Two pretty evenly matched teams. They made three plays that flat out affected the game. It’s as simple as that. They forced three turnovers. They took all three of them down into the red zone. Basically gave them 17 points and we lose by 17 points. That’s the difference in the game. They’re as good as anybody in the country at converting on turnovers. Congratulations to Coach Gundy on his 100th win. He’s doing a great job with this program. You guys see this place. It’s spectacular. They’ve got good players and coaches. They were better than us today.”
OSU is now bowl eligible for a school-record 11th straight season.
WVU had not given up more than 17 points in a Big 12 game this year. OSU had 20 at halftime and finished with 37. WVU had not given up more than 32 points in any game this season.
“They were a well coached team,” said Mountaineer offensive lineman Tyler Orlosky. “They didn’t give us anything we were unfamiliar with. I just think we didn’t execute plays well, and we can’t turn the ball over three times. You get no turnovers, you win a game”
OSU receiver James Washington got over 100 yards receiving for the third time this season. He has had at least one catch in 27 consecutive games.
“He’s really good,” WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said of Washington. “He is by far the best kid we’ve faced all year, up to this point. We had some things for him. In the second half, I don’t know how many catches he had, but I thought we did a better job with him.
“We were playing a little loose in coverage. I don’t know why, but we’ll get all that fixed. We have to get these guys ready to go for next week.”
Last season, OSU won a nailbiter 36-34 over Kansas State in Stillwater.
This season, the Wildcats have lost to Stanford, Oklahoma and West Virginia.