Berry Tramel: Grading Oklahoma State's 48-34 victory over West Virginia.
MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — OSU’s 48-34 victory over the Mountaineers was an up-and-down drama in which the Cowboys both overcame and caused adversity. But the Cowboy report card begins with an offensive line that not long ago was considered a problem and now is considered a plus.
Offensive line: A. A once-beleaguered offensive line blocked well for tailback Ollie Sanders – and quarterback Alan Bowman. The Cowboys lost Jake Springfield and Jason Brooks (Springfield returned) during the game, but Cole Birmingham and Taylor Miterko filled in ably. Gordon rushed for 282 yards on 29 carries. Bowman was not sacked, and though he scrambled at least three times, WVU’s pass rush was not a big factor.
Third-down defense: D. The Mountaineers converted eight of 15 third downs, which is too many. But worse for OSU was the length of some of those conversions. A 3rd-and-16 pass interference penalty against Korie Black gave WVU first-quarter life after the Cowboys stormed to a 10-0 lead. Mountaineer quarterback Garrett Greene threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Devin Carter on 3rd-and-9. The Mountaineers also converted a third-and-8 (a 19-yard pass play set up a touchdown) and two more third downs needing at least five yards.
Kicking game: D. The Cowboys were not good in what typically is a strength. Brennan Presley muffed a punt that West Virginia recovered. Hudson Kaak punted the ball into the back of his blocker, and the ball somehow still rolled for a 24-yard kick. Alex Hale missed a 31-yard field-goal attempt. OSU roughed the kicker on an extra point after WVU drew within 41-34, giving the Mountaineers more ammunition to try an onside kick with 2:37 left in the game. The only redeeming special-teams play was West Virginia muffed a punt, too, when Kale Smith pushed a WVU blocker into returner Preston Fox, causing a muff that Parker Robertson recovered at the Mountaineer 27-yard line, setting up the go-ahead touchdown,.
Kendal Daniels: A. The OSU safety started and ended the game strong. On WVU’s second possession, Daniels stripped the ball from tight end Kole Taylor after a short reception, for a turnover. On the game’s most important play, a 4th-and-2 for West Virginia with OSU leading 34-27 and less than five minutes left in the game, Daniels grabbed Greene for a four-yard loss, one of his 11 tackles.
Alan Bowman: B. Bowman improved to 3-1 as the full-time OSU quarterback. He didn’t have a spectacular game, completing 24 of 36 passes for 210 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. The pickoff was a poor decision – a post pattern to Rashod Owens that safety Anthony Wilson was waiting on – but Bowman made a lot of tight-fit throws that helped keep drives moving. And Bowman took just one sack, keeping OSU out of long-yardage situations.
Containing Greene: D. The Cowboys contained mobile WVU quarterback Garrett Greene, but eventually the dam broke. Collin Clay and Collin Oliver combined for a sack of Greene, and NIck Martin was credited with a quarterback hurry. But though the Cowboys often flushed Greene from the pocket, they often let him free. Greene scrambled nine times for 58 yards. He also completed three of seven passes out of scramble mode, including a 46-yard touchdown pass. And Greene ran for 62 yards on 10 designed running plays. That’s a lot of yardage from a quarterback’s legs.