You wanted a shakeup on Saturday? You got your shakeup in the afternoon as Oklahoma State came from 17 points down at halftime to stun No. 9 West Virginia, 45-41. The Cowboys certainly made it interesting with the Mountaineers getting one final shot with two seconds remaining for the walk-off win. However, quarterback Will Grier's pass was deflected in the end zone and the Cowboys completed the upset.
The loss does not eliminate West Virginia from the Big 12 Championship Game race necessarily -- Iowa State and Texas still have to play, and the Mountaineers have another game against Oklahoma on Black Friday -- but this is a tough blow for a top-10 team.
After falling behind in the first half due to three turnovers, Oklahoma State leaned heavily on running back Chuba Hubbard and quarterback Taylor Cornelius to grind their way back into the game. Both eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground with Cornelius adding a rushing touchdown to his five passing touchdowns. The Cowboys defense also deserves praise for shutting down West Virginia's rushing attack, forcing two fumbles and keeping the Mountaineers from sustaining any type of drive until the fourth quarter.
Here's what we learned from the dramatic upset in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
1. Oklahoma State has been a great underdog, and it shows: The Cowboys have been dogs four times this year: vs. Boise State, Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Mike Gundy's team is now 4-0 against the spread in those games and 3-1 straight up. In fact, as ESPN's stat and Vegas guru Chris Fallica pointed out, Oklahoma State was 7-1 ATS and 6-2 SU in those situations in the past eight games.
Oklahoma State, a two-point conversion away from beating THREE top 10 teams in a rebuilding year.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 18, 2018
This has been a rebuilding year for Gundy post-Mason Rudolph and James Washington, and it's not come without its frustrations. Gundy stuck with Cornelius despite groans earlier in the season to go in a different direction. To be that patient and committed isn't easy when you're not winning at the rate you're used to. While Cornelius is far from a sure thing, he's taken steps forward getting the ball to his playmakers while utilizing his legs to make plays. Gundy has drawn up a lot of plays that get top wideout Tylan Wallace open while other contributors like Tyron Johnson have come on strong over the past month. This might actually be one of Gundy's best coaching jobs.
2. Oklahoma State made two critical adjustments at halftime: The first was moving to a four-wide set on offense. The Mountaineers defense had no answers for the passing attack and the lanes that it opened up in the running back with Hubbard and Cornelius. The other improvement was stopping the run on defense. Mountaineers running back Kennedy McKoy had 131 yards in the first half, but the running game was almost completely non-existent in the final 30 minutes with McKoy only netting about another 17 yards. Once Oklahoma State stopped the run, it allowed the defense to do what it does best: bring pressure and use its physical defensive backs to bully West Virginia's wideouts.
The 'Eers had seven second-half possessions. There was one sustained scoring drive of 10 plays over 83 yards. Otherwise, Oklahoma State forced a fumble and a pair of three-and-outs while keeping Grier and the passing game in check. It was a great turnaround.
3. Dana Holgorsen didn't trust his defense (and he shouldn't have): For the second time this year, it looked like West Virginia might pull out a dramatic win. Leading 34-31 in the fourth quarter, Holgorsen elected to go for it not once but twice on fourth down deep in Oklahoma State territory. The first play was a would-be touchdown bailed out by a defensive pass interference. The second was a Grier draw play for a touchdown -- the same play that West Virginia converted as a two-point play vs. Texas earlier this month.
Those calls took stones, but Holgorsen saw the writing on the wall. West Virginia's defense was getting run over and clearly gassed. If Holgorsen was going to coach his team to a win in Stillwater, it was going to be with his offense on the field and with the ball in Grier's hands. The calls paid off in that situation, but West Virginia simply ran out of time to try to win the game.
4. The Big 12 Championship Game race is still bonkers: Depending on the outcome of this game and Iowa State-Texas, the Big 12 Championship Game could have been set heading into the final week of the regular season. But what makes you think the Big 12 would ever make things that easy? While West Virginia isn't eliminated from the race, there are a ton of possibilities for the conference's top four teams heading into the final week of the regular season. Here they are (assuming Oklahoma and Texas can beat Kansas). Don't hurt yourself too much:
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