By Jason Elmquist, CNHI News Service
MORGANTOWN, West Va. —
It was pretty simple to pinpoint the reason for No. 11 Oklahoma State’s 30-21 upset loss to West Virginia Saturday.
OSU turned the ball over three times with West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 in Big 12) turning them into 13 points. The loss dropped OSU to No. 21 in the AP poll.
On two instances, the turnover came deep in OSU territory, with both resulting in field goals, while the third was more costly — an interception returned 58 yards for a touchdown.
“I’m going to take those on me as bad throws and move forward. That’s all you can do. You can’t dwell on those,’’ said OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh, who threw two interceptions and failed to complete half of his passes. “... But it’s stuff we can easily correct. It’s stuff we can easily go out and be better at.’’
Compounding the issues for the Cowboys was the lack of production in the running game.
OSU mustered just 111 yards rushing on 40 carries — an average of 2.8 yards per carry. WVU wasn’t much better in that aspect, running 39 times for 68 yards for 1.7 yards per rush.
What West Virginia did have going for them, however, was the deep ball.
Behind quarterback Clint Trickett, a transfer from Florida State, the Mountaineers aired it out often and it paid off on several occasions — even though Cowboy cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Tyler Patmon each came away with interceptions. Trickett went 24 for 50 with 309 yards and a touchdown.
“We had the opportunity to get some more turnovers and we didn’t,’’ OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “The ball floated in the air some. We had some pressure at times and he just slung it up there and we didn’t make plays.’’
Freshman Ben Grogan had a 23-yard field goal try with 9:47 left in the game hit off the inside of the right upright that would have tied the contest at 24. Grogan also missed a 44-yard attempt wide left right before halftime.
“Emotionally, when we miss the field goal down there it got the crowd back into the game,’’ OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “... There’s certain things we take for granted at this level of football — short field goals, being on the 1-yard line and scoring. When you fall short in those areas, the emotions go to the other team and to their crowd.’’
Oklahoma State never got the ball past its own 30-yard line on its final three possessions following the miss. That led to the Mountaineers get two more field goals to put the game away.
Gundy was uncertain on the status of Gilbert for Saturday’s game with Kansas State after Gilbert was ejected for throwing several punches — including a big uppercut — during a skirmish with a West Virginia player.
“To be honest with you, they’ve changed the rule so much that I don’t know,” Gundy said. “I don’t think so, because it wasn’t a defenseless player, I don’t think it does. But I should know that.
“I guess I’m just not prepared for our guys to do that. We don’t stand for that and we’ve got to be better than that."
Gilbert may not be the only player in doubt for next week's contest against Kansas State.
Receivers Josh Stewart and Jhajuan Seales appeared to sustain head injuries in the closing minutes, with Stewart being walked to the locker room before the game was over and Seales lying motionless on the field — until members of the training staff came to his aid — in the final minute.
Cowboy punter Kip Smith had his worst showing as OSU's punter. Replacing long-time punter Quinn Sharp, Smith averaged 37.9 yards per punt — shy of his season average of 40.2 through the first three games.
With having to punt 10 times, Smith did land four attempts inside the 20-yard line. He also had a long of 50 yards. But a 13-yard shank late in the first half allowed West Virginia to move just 43 yards for a touchdown that put the Mountaineers up 24-14 at halftime.
The last time OSU won on the road in Big 12 Conference action was last season in a less than impressive 20-14 win over a Kansas team that has not won a conference game in two years. However, in the four-straight conference road losses the Cowboys have lost by an average of eight points.