By Ryan Decker, Originally published for West Virginia Illustrated
OSU had beaten six AP Top-10 teams since 2008, including in four out of the last five seasons, and looked up to the test early on against the Mountaineers.
After going up by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, the Cowboys were able to stay out in front of WVU’s comeback attempt, knocking off the tenth-ranked Mountaineers 37-20 to hand WVU its first loss of the season.
Both West Virginia and Oklahoma State were able to move the ball early on in the first half, but the opposing defenses stepped up, holding the offenses to field goal tries.
Mike Molina made a 36-yard field goal attempt on the Mountaineers first drive, though later in the half he missed a 39-yarder, continuing his bad luck from over 38 yards.
Oklahoma State kicker Ben Grogan made both of his first half field goal attempts, the second of which gave the Cowboys a three-point lead late in the first quarter.
West Virginia scored the first touchdown in this game as it has in all but one of its games so far this season.
Later in the drive, with West Virginia just inside the red zone, Gibson hauled in another grab, this one needing all of his 6’0” frame to make the catch while dragging one foot in the end zone for the score.
WVU led 10-6.
Oklahoma State would go on to outscore the Mountaineers 14-0 the rest of the second quarter.
The Cowboys needed just three plays to take advantage of a Howard turnover – a fumble on his own 10-yard line – as Mason Rudolph threw a strike to Chris Lacy for the easy touchdown that put OK St. back out in front.
Rudolph threw his second scoring pass of the day with just 15 seconds remaining in the opening half, this one giving the Cowboys a 10-point lead, 20-10, heading into halftime.
Ruldoph had a good day passing, completing 26 of 36 passes for 273 yards and a trio of interceptions. Despite the Cowboys being very ineffective running the ball – just 85 total yards – the offense as a whole was able to move the ball down the field.
Oklahoma State’s 20 first-half points was the most the Mountaineer defense had given up total in any of the last three games.
West Virginia’s offense, which gained less than 200 yards of offense in the first half, continued to struggle through most of the third quarter.
The Mountaineers gained just 32 yards on their first 15 plays of the quarter, including running for -14 yards.
Howard also lost some of his accuracy in the third, which has been a calling card for him this season.
Despite the Mountaineer defense standing tall for most of the third, a dropped pass by Ka’Raun White that turned into a lengthy interception return, put the defense’s backs up against the wall.
Like it did in the first half, Oklahoma State turned the Mountaineer turnover into six points, as Rudolph kept the ball and ran it in himself for the score.
West Virginia trailed 27-10 heading into the final quarter with its perfect season hanging in the balance, but were in good field position when the final quarter began.
WVU’s final drive of the third, that extended into the opening seconds of the fourth, consumed 75 yards in just over two minutes with the help of three runs of 13 yards or more on the drive. Howard added a 12-yard run of his own, barreling his way over the goal line for the score, pulling the Mountaineers to within 10 points.
After the defense forced OK St. to punt for the third time in the second half, WVU’s offense pieced together another lengthy drive. However, the possession stalled deep inside the red zone, forcing Molina to make a chip shot field goal.
27-20 the Mountaineers trailed midway through the fourth.
Oklahoma State’s offense found its rhythm one final time, though, piecing together a touchdown scoring drive on the ensuing possession.
If that score didn’t officially put the game away, a Howard interception in the middle of the field that was returned by Kevin Henry to the 10-yard line did.
It was Howard’s second interception, third turnover, of the afternoon.
OSU turned all three turnovers into points.
WVU takes on Kansas at home next week. Game time is to be determined.
INJURY UPDATE: Antonio Crawford and Shell both sustained injuries in the first half that caused them to miss the remainder of the game.