Halfway through the regular season and ranked in the Top 15, Oklahoma State is finding ways to win game after game.
The season is backloaded, with games against TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma in three of the last four games, but last Saturday’s 33-26 overtime win at West Virginia has the Cowboys in a great spot in the midseason break.
“The momentum was on their side in the fourth quarter,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “We were able to get a touchdown and then get a big stop. We were tired on defense. West Virginia tempoed us. They controlled the tempo on offense. They fatigued us some. But our guys were able to rally at the end and make a play and found a way to win.“
Oklahoma State decided to get more physical in the overtime.
“We changed our blocking scheme in overtime,” Gundy said. “We had enough time to talk about it. We made some adjustments formation-wise. We changed our blocking scheme. Rennie (Childs) came in and ran the ball really effective for us. That would be the only answer for how we were able to actually rush the ball some in overtime.”
The Cowboy defense was up to the challenge to win in overtime on the road.
“They did a good job,” Gundy said. “He (Dana Holgorsen) went for the fourth and two. I knew he was going to run the ball. They were pounding on us. The big play was where we were able to stop them. I think the quarterback tried to keep the ball and bounce outside. We were able to get him for a six-yard loss and kind of put their backs against the wall. They were tired. It’s hard for me to say that because as a coach you always want to have your players in a position where they are not fatigued. We were a little tired. I think last week’s game and the game the week before that I think took some juice out of our players. It showed up a little bit with our football team.”
OSU should be 8-0, 5-0 in the Big 12 and maybe ranked in the Top 10 when they host No. 2 TCU on November 7. The Cowboys are off this week and host Big 12 doormat Kansas on October 24.
“We’re excited about being 6-0,” Gundy said. “We need the week off. The open date comes at a good time for us. We’ve been at it for 10 weeks. And we saw a little bit of fatigue in practice this week and we were hoping we could fight through it in this game. It worked out well for us. We certainly need some rest. We’ve got some work ahead of us from an X’s and O’s standpoint.”
Backup quarterback J.W. Walsh played a key role in the win. He scored the game winning touchdown in overtime on a fourth-down play. Had he failed to score, West Virginia could have won with a field goal.
Walsh rushed four times for 17 yards and completed two of three passes – including one touchdown – in spelling starter Mason Rudolph.
His efficiency rating in the win was 204.7, marking the fourth straight game he has turned in an efficiency rating above 200. On the year, Walsh sports an efficiency rating of 235.57.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Gundy said. “As we all know, we’ve got to do a better job of rushing the football. Come up with a way to run the football more effective, which will help our passing.”
Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah scored a defensive touchdown, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and notched a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. He also set a season high with eight tackles. The reigning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year recovered a fumble in the end zone and enabled the Cowboy offense to start a drive at the West Virginia 28 yard line. Just five plays later, the Pokes found the end zone. In conference games, Ogbah leads the Big 12 in sacks, tackles for loss and fumbles forced.
“We had way too many turnovers,” Gundy said. “Had special teams mistakes. We had botched extra point and we weren’t very good in our coverage units. I don’t know what to say. Ultimately in the end, we found a way to win. Our defense played well enough in the first half to keep us in it.”
Oklahoma State, freshman punter Zach Sinor punted eight times for an average of 44.9 yards, with three of his punts downed inside the Mountaineer 20 yard line. In the fourth quarter, he managed punts of 49 yards, 52 yards and 50 yards on his last three kicks. For the game, Sinor’s eight punts resulted in just three punt return yards for West Virginia.
“It was a tough loss,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “I want to congratulate Coach Gundy. They have a good ball club. They are 6-0. They are a top-20 team. Congratulations to them. This is the second straight week that we didn’t start very well. We put ourselves in a big hole. I really commend our players for coming in at halftime. We challenged them, and we came out in the second half and played a lot better. We were at a point where we could win. At the end of the day, it was not good enough. You have to play four quarters if you want to win in the Big 12. Right now, we are not capable of doing that. There is nothing I can say to them that is going to make them feel any better, those guys are pretty hurt down there. The only way to make that feeling go away, is to get back to work. It’s a long season. We have seven more Big 12 football games that we have to get ready for.”
This is the fourth time under Gundy that OSU has had a perfect record after six games. (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2015). OSU had only two 6-0 starts (1945 and 1997) in 103 seasons before Gundy took over in 2005.
It was the Cowboys’ eighth consecutive victory, marking OSU’s longest win streak since the Pokes rattled off 11 straight wins from Dec. 29, 2010 to Nov. 18, 2011. Eight straight wins ties for the third-longest winning streak in school history.
The win made the Cowboys bowl-eligible for the 10th straight season to extend their school-record streak.
This also was the Cowboys’ firstone over West Virginia in three trips to Morgantown and allowed OSU to match last season’s regular-season win total of six.
It also improved the Cowboys to 43-5 in their last 48 games against unranked opponents, dating back to 2010.