By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State beat West Virginia 55-34 in Stillwater on Saturday, giving the Cowboys a 6-3 overall record, 4-2 in the Big 12. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Blame it on bad luck, bad player placement or both, but twice on Oklahoma State kicks, the football took a wild bounce and drilled an unaware West Virginia player, turning into an OSU takeaway. The second was a momentum shifter, early in the second half, when an impressive West Virginia defensive stop was erased on Tavon Austin’s punt return blunder, giving OSU the ball and eventually a touchdown.
It was over when…
…Jeremy Smith broke through the line for a quick-twitch 21-yard touchdown run, giving Oklahoma State a 55-34 lead and its fans a rare scene of what many expected to see all season. Smith’s only run for a combined 48 yards and two touchdowns in six Big 12 games, mainly because of a lingering ankle injury, but the violent burst shown on the game-clinching win could be a sign of good health and good things to come.
Star of the game – WR Josh Stewart
It was a career night for the sophomore, and one that might be hard to top for a while. Stewart put up numbers not seen since, well, Justin Blackmon was here, catching 13 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while adding another score on a 46-yard rush. He was slippery and explosive, providing Chelf with the go-to target he needed in his first career start.
Solid starting debut for the redshirt junior. He controlled the game, limited mistakes and led OSU to a much-needed conference win. Chelf finished 22/31 for 292 yards and four touchdowns, translating all the meaningless blowout production he’s had over the past few seasons to meaningful stats on Saturday.
Trending upward – Justin Gilbert’s return skills
The playmaker finally made a game-breaking play. His first-quarter 96-yard burst to the end zone may get lost in the team’s scoring barrage, but it was a big play at the time, turning West Virginia’s brief momentum swing back to OSU. It was Gilbert’s fifth career kickoff return TD, giving him the most in Oklahoma State history. Mike Gundy has openly said the Cowboys needed more from Gilbert (and they still do), but this was a good start.
Trending downward – Justin Gilbert’s (and the rest of the secondary’s) cover skills
Seemed like an uncovered West Virginia receiver was streaking through the Cowboy secondary once a drive on Saturday afternoon. Whether Geno Smith and his target connected was another story, but it was open too many times for them. Smith threw for 364 yards, and it could have been about 150 more. While the run game continues to be stout (WVU had 35 rushes for only 78 yards), the deep coverage has been a recurring issue.
Tweet of the game
Nine have come in the past two seasons
Oklahoma State’s final home game, Senior Night, comes next week against a beatable Texas Tech team. The Red Raiders narrowly escaped an embarrassing loss on Saturday, barely beating Kansas 41-34 in overtime.
Photo of the week
You want proof of Justin Gilbert’s speed?