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10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 20-13 Win Over West Virginia

OSU is (somehow) 8-3 on the season with Bedlam on deck.




Oklahoma State escaped Morgantown (is there any other way to leave that place?) with a 20-13 win over West Virginia to move to 8-3 on the season and set up a big-time (and primetime) Bedlam matchup with OU for (maybe? let it be?) a spot in the Big 12 Championship.

It wasn’t the prettiest Oklahoma State game ever as OSU trailed 10-7 at halftime after notching just 119 yards against the Mountaineers in the first 30 minutes. They then trailed 13-10 going into the fourth before two clutch drives by Dru Brown and Co. got them on the proper side of the ledger.

In his first start as a Cowboy, Brown was solid, going 22/29 for 196 yards and a pair of TDs. His leading wideout was … Chuba Hubbard, who caught seven passes for 88 yards and also hit WVU for 106 on the ground on 26 carries. He didn’t score, but OSU might not have scored at all without him. He now has 1,832 rushing yards on the season.

Again (!) the story of the day was the defense. I’ve improbably typed that sentence every Saturday for the last month. Despite not turning West Virginia and junior QB Jarret Doege over a single time, they held West Virginia to just 13 points on their nine offensive drives, had a massive goal-line stand in the first half and punished Doege late while putting the game away. ?

More on all of this below, but first a shout to our sponsor all year, Thrive Landscape and Irrigation. WVU could use some landscaping (or just new cameras) on their field, and Thrive is definitely the place I would call. If you live in Stillwater or the surrounding area, you should hit them up for anything you need in that arena.

Onto the 10 thoughts!

1. Chu

I’m going to miss him. Eight more quarters and hopefully a weekend trip to NYC, and that’s all we get. I have a feeling he’s saved his best cook for last against the Sooners next Saturday evening in his BPS finale. On this day, he wasn’t his elite self on the ground, but for somebody who’s now touched it 303 times this season, he was plenty good enough.

He does everything, too. Watch the punishment he takes to get 89 open off the end for OSU’s first TD of the day.

OSU ran 35 real plays in the second half, and Chuba touched it on 19 of them. His numbers — 106 yards (which leaves him 168 shy of 2K, a perfect number for Bedlam) — won’t impress you, until you see that he had nearly 200 total yards and that OSU had just 285 as a team on Saturday (the #math there is that Chuba was 68 percent of OSU’s total offensive production). Filthy.

This offense has been Spencer + Chuba for about six weeks now, which means it’s mostly now just … Chuba.

“Chuba really set the standard with running the football,” said Mike Gundy after the game. “We threw to him a lot today. That’s why he is who he is. He’s a guy who deserves to be in New York City. We rode Chuba’s back. That’s why he is who he is. We told him, “Chuba, you’re going to have to do it,’ and that’s why he’s special.”

So, so special.

2. Brown Was Enough

Listen, I said all week that we were 1. Overstating how good Brown was based on a couple throws against McNeese and FBS McNeese (Kansas) and 2. Underrating how good he is as a backup QB. I thought both things played out against West Virginia on Saturday.

You come in and go 22/29 with a couple of TDs and no turnovers on the road, and that’s a solid performance. It felt like OSU trusted him more (or he trusted himself more?) to throw those quick slants to Dillon Stoner, and he obviously knows what he’s doing.

The problem for OSU is that it has essentially become a two-headed Army offense with Sanders and Chuba slicing up Big 12 defenses with their legs. Brown doesn’t have that. His arm also isn’t as strong as Sanders’ (although, again, he’s probably more accurate).

So I thought OSU got as much or more in the passing game, but they lost a lot in the rushing game. And when your entire plan is predicated on being a slow-it-down offense with two guys taking the lion’s share of the touches, and you remove one of those guys, it’s going to be problematic.

I say all that to say I thought he gave you everything you could have expected him to give you. He’s not as talented or as good as Sanders, but he’s also not as (at times) erratic. He’s the perfect backup, and you can list him as the reason for at least one OSU win in what could be a nine- or 10-win season.

3. Game of inches

I was thinking about this in the first half. First of all, replays on spots are absolute nonsense. I don’t need the mathematicians coming and talking about Pythagoras and about where the ball was when friction was created on the ground between a player’s ankle and the little black pellets in the turf. It’s all so outrageous I want to throw my keyboard through my shed window.

That’s an aside though. What I actually want to talk about is how slim the margins are between wins and losses, bowl games and not bowl games, hirings and firings. What if this gets called a TD instead of not a TD? What if WVU only needs a FG late in the fourth instead of a TD? What if OSU’s defense doesn’t maintain the momentum it’s created over the last three weeks because it allows this (sort of) early TD?

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I’m never not astonished by how thin the razor is between 9-3 and 6-6, and this play in particular stood out to me as illustrative of that fact.

4. Chu Screen Game


It’s so unfair for DB (or Sanders) to be able to dump it off to the most talented, fastest player in the country. It was even more unfair when they also had an All-American obliterating corners on the edge, but it remains unfair that a defense can successfully cover four other guys and then get their doors blown off like this.

It’s a safety valve I’ve been screaming for all season as it relates to Sanders. So maybe it’s simply that he won’t look in that direction or maybe they wanted Brown to have every net available for his first high-wire act. But whatever the case, I could not get enough of Hubbard in space on Saturday and WVU could not have possibly been more frustrated. He had seven of these dump-off throws for nearly as many receiving yards as the rest of OSU’s receivers combined (108).

5. Malcolm Up the Middle

How much fun have these linebackers been? Amen Ogbongbemiga (?) led the way with 11 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss on Saturday, but I think Malcolm Rodriguez may have delivered the most punishing blow. Jarret Doege’s hair may have even been mussed.

We can point to whatever part of the defense we want to point to, and it would probably be a fine and adequate way to prove how much better they are this season than last. But the most prominent to me in this game was the LB unit which helped limit WVU to 26 (!!) rushing yards on 1.2 a carry.

I don’t know how it’s going to go in Bedlam next weekend, but I know they’ve been immensely impressive to close out what was looking like a very unimpressive Big 12 season. WVU scored 1.4 points per drive on Saturday, which means this is how the last four games have gone for OSU’s defense.

Iowa State: 1.8 PPD
TCU: 1.8 PPD
Kansas: 1.0 PPD
WVU: 1.4 PPD

Those are elite numbers for anyone, even more so for a Big 12 school and even more so for Oklahoma State in Big 12-only games.

6. No Turnovers

Remember earlier this year when all OSU did was turn the ball over? They’ve done so just twice in their last four games and haven’t done it at all in their last two. In fact, in two straight games OSU has exactly zero turnovers and two penalties. It only has three such games in the entire 191-game Mike Gundy era!

Somehow, OSU has gone from having the discipline of my two-year-old last season to having the discipline of a SEAL in the span of a single year. It’s what teams with inferior talent have to do to steal games on the road, and Gundy gets credit for reimplementing it into the program.

7. Clutch Closing Kick

With the chips down late, OSU closed hard. Here were their plays in the fourth quarter.

Brown to Braydon for 6
Brown incomplete to Stoner
Brown to Stoner for 12
Brown to Stoner for 9
Chuba for 3
Brown to Braydon for 9
Brown to Braydon for 7
Brown rush for 6
Chuba for 13
Chuba for 5
Brown TD to Stoner
Brown rush for 1
Chuba for 2
Brown to Chuba for 7
Chuba for 4
Brown to Stoner for 15
Chuba for 11
Brown incomplete to Stoner
Chuba for 8
Chuba for 1
FG by Ammendola

Two incompletions, everything else was positive yardage, including 12 of the 20 plays going for 5 or more yards. Did Brown and Co. look like they wanted Bama? No, they did not. But those last two drives were big boy on-the-road-in-November-type stuff. I realize I’m trying to make a 20-point offensive performance sound great — which it wasn’t — but when you get just eight real drives, 2.5 points per is not as bad as it seems, and closing with 10 points on your final two was a must-have in a big moment.

8. Big Ten Game

OSU ran 66 plays on Saturday to West Virginia’s 60. There were 17 actual drives (not including end-of-half nonsense). It’s just the second time since 2010 in which OSU has run 70 or fewer plays in the same game where its opponent ran 60 or fewer. Both have happened this season (Kansas State was the other).

Oklahoma State might be a Big Ten team. They rely on defense, an elite back and only lets their QB toss it a handful of times a game. Yes, this sounds like a Big Ten team. Even worse: I might be OK with this.

It was also just the fifth game of the Gundy era in which both teams have scored 20 or fewer points. Here are the other four.

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And it was nearly one of the 10 least-productive offensive outputs of the entire Gundy era!

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9. Win Nine Games

If you follow our podcast, you know I’ve been hollering about how Iowa State can’t win nine games to save their lives. Twice … ever. Ever!

And we rant and rave about Matt Campbell at Michigan or Matt Campbell at Florida State or whatever. OSU now has two shots at winning nine games for the ninth time of the Gundy era. If they somehow beat OU and win their bowl game, that would be 10 or more wins for the seventh time of the decade. Madness.

I was pretty critical of Gundy after that Texas Tech-Baylor stretch, and I think a lot of it was deserved. But if it was, he also deserves all the credit for turning this team — without its best wideout and starting QB for part of the second half of the year — into a team that’s a miracle second-half OU comeback Baylor collapse away from playing Bedlam to go to the Big 12 title game.

That’s straight up having a better culture and a more professional organization than everyone else. Also having one of the best college backs of the century (NOT AN EXAGGERATION) doesn’t hurt, but a tip o’ the visor to Gundy for his work this season with a freshman QB, that freshman QB’s backup and 6-6 staring him right in the eyes for the second consecutive year.

10. What to Root For

Need it.

If Baylor and OU win today, that’s your Big 12 title game. If OU loses and Baylor wins, OSU will play OU next week to face Baylor in the Big 12 title game. If OU and Baylor lose, it gets a little dicier for OSU but they would still almost certainly go to the Big 12 title game against Baylor by beating OU. A problem: CD is back, OU is home and it’s a night game with the CFP on the line and Lincoln ready to cook. I don’t feel great about it!

But stranger things have happened.

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