10 Lessons We Learned from Oklahoma State's 55-34 Win over West Virginia
The Big 12 battle between West Virginia and Oklahoma State turned out to be the high-scoring offensive shootout that many were expecting. The Mountaineers and the Cowboys combined to total 89 points and 922 yards of offense.
Oklahoma State was able to take advantage of West Virginia's weak defense as well as its special-teams mistakes to come away with a 55-34 victory in Stillwater.
Here's a look at the 10 lessons we learned from the game.
Clint Chelf Can Lead the Cowboys to Victory
Clint Chelf's first career start turned out to be a very successful outing.
Chelf completed 22 of 31 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown, as he helped guide Oklahoma State to an important victory.
The junior signal-caller proved that he can handle the pressure that comes along with the starting role. Now, it will be interesting to see what coach Mike Gundy decides to do with his deep stable of quarterbacks for the remainder of the season.
The Cowboys have the luxury of having three quarterbacks—Chelf, West Lunt and J.W. Walsh—who have all shown that they can handle being starters.
West Virginia’s Defense Is Still a Disaster
West Virginia's defense has gotten exposed this season against the likes of Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas State and TCU. The Mountaineers showed severe flaws on the defensive side of the ball yet again against Oklahoma State.
The defense allowed 6.7 yards per play and gave up 48 points to Oklahoma State's offense.
Although the defense did tighten up when it counted during some key situations in the third quarter, overall, it was just a bad performance.
The Mountaineers do have a lot of youth and inexperience on the defensive side of the ball this season. Nevertheless, there's still no excuse for not being able to tackle, not being able to cover and not being able to do the fundamental things it takes to get consistent stops.
The Mountaineers Need to Clean Up Their Special Teams
Somehow, West Virginia's special teams managed to be even worse than the defense.
The Mountaineers were absolutely atrocious in the all-important third phase of the game.
They gave up a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown; they lost two fumbles on returns that gave Oklahoma State great field position; and they failed to down a beautifully placed punt inside the 5-yard line, even though they had four players standing around the ball.
Giving West Virginia's special-teams performance an F sounds almost too generous.
Josh Stewart Has Star Potential
Oklahoma State WR Josh Stewart turned out to be the biggest star of the game.
Stewart hauled in 13 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran for a score on a 46-yard sweep.
The sophomore speedster displayed outstanding playmaking ability, and he showed that he has true star potential.
Admittedly, West Virginia's secondary is basically making everyone look like a star this season, but what Stewart was able to accomplish was still very impressive.
Geno Smith’s Heisman Dreams Are Officially Dead
Geno Smith's Heisman hopes were on life support coming into the game against Oklahoma State. But they're now officially dead after his mediocre performance in the team's fourth straight loss.
Smith has not looked anything like the player who started off the year as the hottest quarterback in the country in the first month of the season.
The struggling senior signal-caller was missing wide-open receivers, throwing at receivers' feet and just generally looking confused as to where to throw the football.
Not only will Smith not be winning the Heisman this season; if he keeps playing like this, NFL scouts may start to wonder if he's even worth a first-round draft pick.
Stedman Bailey's Ankle Is Fine
After having a quiet two-catch performance against TCU last week, Stedman Bailey exploded against Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Bailey hauled in 14 catches for 225 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort.
The questions about the health of the star receiver's ankle were emphatically answered with that dominant performance.
Ryan Nehlen and Connor Arlia Can Make Plays
The West Virginia wide-receiver corps was short-handed against Oklahoma State after Travares Copeland decided to leave the team and Ivan McCartney did not make the trip to Stillwater.
The Mountaineers needed Ryan Nehlen and Connor Arlia to step up and play integral roles in the offense, and they both answered the call.
Nehlen and Arlia combined to catch seven passes for 51 yards, and both players made some key plays in clutch situations, such as Nehlen's touchdown and Arlia's diving grab on third down.
If McCartney doesn't return, there's a good chance that both Nehlen and Arlia will have to take on bigger roles for the rest of the season. That's why it was encouraging to see both play well against the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State Has a Penalty Problem
It's no secret that Oklahoma State has not been playing the most disciplined football this season. The Cowboys entered this weekend averaging 6.1 penalties per game.
Against West Virginia, their penalty problem was on full display, as the Cowboys were called for 10 penalties that resulted in the loss of 100 total yards.
What was so frustrating for Mike Gundy was that a few of them were avoidable, especially the killer 15-yard personal-foul penalties.
Although the flags didn't stop Oklahoma State from winning the game, excessive penalization is definitely a problem that the team is going to have to correct.
Quinn Sharp Is Oklahoma State's Secret Weapon
Oklahoma State's high-powered offense gets most of the credit for the team's success. But special-teams ace Quinn Sharp also deserves a lot of recognition as well.
Sharp certainly looked sharp against West Virginia, as he was booming kicks in windy Boone Pickens Stadium, averaging 43.4 yards per punt and having three of his five punts downed inside the 20. The senior also nailed both of his field-goal attempts.
Following his outstanding performance against the Mountaineers, it's easy to say that Sharp definitely deserves to be a finalist for the prestigious Ray Guy Award.
You can also make the argument that he's the best overall special-teams player in the country.
West Virginia Just Isn’t Ready for the Big 12
There was a lot of excitement this offseason surrounding West Virginia's move to the Big 12.
Many optimistic Mountaineer fans were glad that their team was finally getting the chance to prove itself against some of college football's big powerhouse programs. However, after watching the them lose four straight games and fall to 2-4 against conference foes, it's become clear that Dana Holgorsen's squad just isn't properly prepared for the step up in competition.
This team is clearly not ready to challenge for a league title right now, and it may be a few more years before West Virginia is truly ready to start playing with the big boys in the Big 12.
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