My current hair status: Same as Dana’s.
I have no idea how (scheduled tweet from the last three weeks), but Oklahoma State escaped Morgantown with a 33-26 win over West Virginia on Saturday night and moved to 6-0 for just the sixth time in school history (the fourth under Mike Gundy).
The phrase Berry Tramel used for the Texas game comes to mind. Oklahoma State won a game it didn’t even seem like it was trying to win at the end (we’ll get to that in a moment). And yet, it somehow lived to see another week (actually, two) without a tally in the right-hand column. I have many thoughts. Let’s dive in.
1. Emmanuel Ogbah is everything
I’m not allowed to type a few of the words that coursed through my mind when No. 38 came up lame late in the game. He was a one-man (emphasis on the man) demolition crew all night. It started with the fumble recovery and really never stopped. OSU has a good defense even without him, but he single-handedly elevates it to one of the nation’s best. Long live Emmanuel Ogbah.
2. Mike Gundy trusts the philosophy
In the first quarter, when OSU punted from West Virginia’s 34, I thought, “what in the world are we doing?” It’s a fair question no matter what because of #math, but I realized that this fit neatly into what Gundy’s plan is. Pin opposing defenses and let the defense break them. A couple of plays later, this happened.
I know it’s frustrating to not be elite on offense. It frustrates me as much as anyone, but Gundy and Co. have actually been really smart (and lucky!) about how they’ve handled this team. They’ve trusted their defense, picked their spots (sometimes not well … again, we’ll get there) and won eight in a row.
As Matt Amilian pointed out to me tonight. It’s much easier to fix an offense (system) than it is to fix a defense (athletes).
3. Mason Rudolph was … not great, Bob
It wasn’t the best night for No. 2, but Gundy ham and egged[1. Too much Presidents Cup.] his way to another win with both QBs. And he did it the right way this time. He didn’t panic sub Walsh at midfield. He just brought him in when they were in running situations.
Rudolph, as is to be expected of sophomore QBs, has not been very good on the road this season.
Mason Rudolph, when away from Boone Pickens Stadium, now has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Three INTs tonight. #okstate
— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) October 11, 2015
6-0. Toughest road games: check.
— Dave Hudson (@okc_dave) October 11, 2015
The thing that goes a little under the radar is how often he had (and has had) a dude in his face since the Big 12 started. This is both because Big 12 teams are better than the other teams OSU was playing and because OSU’s running game is basically Lennay Kakua at this point. It’s not an excuse (yes it is, I’m such a Rudolph apologist) because Rudolph has to be better for OSU to win bigger games.
But it’s worth mentioning.
4. Turnovers win Big 12 titles
Credit Kyle Fredrickson for pointing this out, Oklahoma State now has forced as many turnovers this season (14) in six games as it did in all of 2014 (13 games). That’s pretty unbelievable. It forced more fumbles tonight (three) than it did all of last season (two).
Throw in the fact that OSU had 98 plays run on its defense and somehow held a Dana Holgorsen offense to 443 yards and 26 points (in overtime!) when it came in averaging five hundo and nearly 40 a game is just unbelievable. Glenn Spencer for knighthood.
5. Those OT plays
Overtime was a hot mess and I loved the entire thing. You can’t run the ball for 60 minutes and then all of a sudden look like Oregon circa 2010. Then … and I cannot believe I’m typing these words … Mason Rudolph gets brought in to run a QB bootleg from the three yard line which, of course, he can’t do.
Do you think Rudolph did a double take when he was subbed in and Yurcich called a QB keeper?
— Dave Hudson (@okc_dave) October 11, 2015
Then Gundy lets ’em hang down to his ankles, leaves Walsh in and wins the game on a run up the middle after a run up the middle was the equivalent of someone trying to get drunk on a six pack of O’Douls all night. And somehow the entire sequence worked!
Here is the entire offensive possession for OSU.
6. Tentativeness will kill us
Devante Averette picks off Skyler Howards with seven minutes left and the Pokes up four. Blood in the water. This is how you win games. You hold on with the offense and let the defense deliver. The defense gift wraps a 11-yard field and all you have to do is insert the dagger.
So instead you do the equivalent of digging a hole, burying the thing and then completely forgetting where it is by running up the middle twice and then trying to sneak a first down in late to David Glidden. That’s embarrassing.
I mean, I get the whole “let the D win games” and I’ve been fighting for its legitimacy all season. But not like this. Glenn Spencer carved the the freaking thing out of a tree he cut down with his teeth in the Allegheny Mountains and slipped it into your hand with the blade out. All you had to do was lift your hand and insert it.
And you didn’t even come close.
That won’t play well in November the purple and green come to Stillwater.
7. Extra points will kill us, too
I’m sort of joking (but not totally) when I ask at what point will Oklahoma State just start going for two after every touchdown. I mean …
That’s two weeks in a row a botched extra point has nearly cost OSU a conference win.
While we’re here — and because I can’t figure out where else to put this — how awesome is it that Mike Yurcich ran the diamond formation in Morgantown on Dana for a TD with J.W. Walsh? That’s like Angelina Jolie wearing a discarded Jennifer Anniston dress during her first public outing with Brad Pitt. Might as well just sit at the top of the stadium with all your assistants holding middle fingers towards the WVU campus.
8. Offense, still struggling
OSU ran it slightly better on Saturday (I guess) with a 3.53 yards per carry average. Its leading rusher, however, was Mason Rudolph (maybe that’s why Yurcich called the bootleg!)
Rennie Childs and Chris Carson ran it a combined 24 times for 55 yards which is basically like not running it at all. I’m convinced at this point that the offensive line is just sort of lousy and Mike & Mike are holding the entire thing together with duct tape and Legos.
Run blocking is atrocious. Adkins needs to put those guys on the sled for about 3 hours straight.
— Evan Epstein (@EvanEpstein60) October 11, 2015
And look, I bag on Yurcich as much as anyone, but I think he’s been good to really good of late. The Fox News offense (conservative running) is a Gundy special. It feels like Yurcich is pushing the limits of what Gundy allows him to do and trying everything he can to put up points. As Kyle Boone noted to me tonight, Leonard Fournette would suck if defenses were touching him in the backfield on every play too.
10. OSU could reach Halloween undefeated
That’s only happened one time in the Gundy era. You know which year. It’s only happened two times in the history of Oklahoma State football (2011 and 1945). The eight-game winning streak is tied for the third-longest ever. Nine would sit alone as the third-longest (13 in 1944-45 and 11 in 2011).
I honestly don’t care how it looked, how many breaks OSU got, how stalled out the offense was, how gassed the defense was, how many f-bombs Dana dropped or that OSU went to overtime in a game it could have ended before halftime. Road games in Austin and Morgantown have been completed and OSU is headed home for the bye week before getting Kansas at home and the Kingsburys in Lubbock on Halloween (let’s get SO weird).
The worst 5-0 team ever has now become the worst 6-0 team ever and will soon most likely be the worst 7-0 team ever with a chance to be the worst 8-0 team ever against Tech. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Don’t look now.