Oklahoma State at West Virginia football: Five takeaways from Cowboys' win vs. Mountaineers

Scott Wright

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It took until less than eight minutes remained in the game, but Oklahoma State true freshman Collin Oliver — the Cowboys’ season sacks leader — got in on the party.

Eventually, it seemed, every Cowboy would get a quarterback sack on Saturday.

The sack squad led the way in the No. 11-ranked Cowboys 24-3 victory at Milan Puskar Stadium that was even more dominant than the final score suggests.

Oliver sacked West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege for a 6-yard loss in the fourth quarter for the eighth sack by an OSU defender, the second-most in a single game in school history, and the most in a game since 2004. 

The eight sacks were only part of the story of OSU’s strangling defensive performance that saw West Virginia finally reach the 100-yard mark in total offense late in the fourth quarter.

“We’re becoming a defense that everyone can rely on,” OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “I keep saying it, but it’s important. The third-down stops, the fourth-down stops, even with the second group.

“As a coordinator, it’s what you like to see.”

West Virginia’s 133 total yards were the fewest allowed in a game by Oklahoma State since 2000. 

Of that 133 yards, West Virginia gained 54 on its first drive of the day, plus another 10 yards gifted by two OSU penalties on the way to a field goal for a 3-0 lead.

From there, OSU shut the door.

“I expected our defense to play good, but I didn’t expect that,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “They dominated the game. Other than the first drive, West Virginia hit a few plays and they never could get off the ground again, because of the way our defense played.”

Here are four more takeaways from the Cowboy victory:

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Oklahoma State cornerbacks Korie Black (4) and Demarco Jones (22) celebrate after a fumble recovery during the first half of a 24-3 win at West Virginia on Saturday.

Second-quarter turnaround

On its first two possessions of the game, West Virginia had 64 yards of offense and took a 3-0 lead. On OSU’s first two possessions, it went three-and-out, then threw an interception. 

But everything flipped after Sanders was picked off. Rather than turning into a momentum boost for West Virginia, the OSU defense found a spark, holding the Mountaineers to minus-3 yards the rest of the half. 

The biggest play of the bunch, Jason Taylor II knocked the ball loose on a quarterback sack and even though it was recovered by West Virginia, it resulted in a 26-yard loss. 

OSU recorded four quarterback sacks in the first half. 

“Defensively, we prepared all week — we talked about how good their offensive line was,” said OSU defensive end Brock Martin, who had two sacks. “They have a solid quarterback, their running back is real physical watching film all week. So we really took it serious this week.

“We take it serious every week, but we kinda stepped it up this week to make sure that we were gonna get it done.” 

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Fade to Tay 

Twice on almost identical catches, Tay Martin grabbed touchdown catches in the southwest corner of Milan Puskar Stadium. 

Perfectly placed throws by Spencer Sanders and stellar catches in tight coverage by Martin on fade routes into the corner of the end zone for scores of 6 and 12 yards. 

“I wanted to throw it up even more,” OSU offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn said of the fade route. “We got in that heavy personnel towards the end and had a third-and-short there and could’ve done it there.”

Martin finished the day with seven catches for 63 yards.

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Sanders gets first win vs. Mountaineers

Sanders is in his fourth season at OSU, but played in his first game against West Virginia on Saturday. 

Sanders redshirted his first year at OSU, then was injured each of the next two years when the Cowboys faced the Mountaineers. 

Aside from an early interception on Saturday, Sanders was solid in his debut against West Virginia. Sanders finished 21-of-31 passing for 182 yards and two touchdowns. 

“We just fixed the little things,” Sanders said of getting the offense going after the early struggles. “Once we got it all communicated and settled out, we started really kinda just driving the ball. As long as we keep that mindset of execute every time, hopefully next week we can come out strong, first drive, every drive.” 

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Another light day for Warren

After averaging 32 carries a game through the middle portion of the season in games against Boise State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas, OSU running back Jaylen Warren had yet another light day on Saturday.

For the third straight week, Warren had fewer than 20 touches, finishing with 16 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, plus two receptions for 9 yards.

Warren’s score in the fourth quarter was the final nail in the West Virginia coffin. He broke loose straight up the middle for a 13-yard TD and a 24-3 Cowboy lead.

“He only had 16 carries, so that’s a good thing,” Gundy said. “The game was played slow. They used the clock a lot… And then we didn’t play very fast most of the time, so there wasn’t a lot of plays.

“Sixteen carries for him was good to keep him fresh and keep him healthy.”