Oklahoma State was able to bounce back from a bad loss against West Virginia last Saturday, surviving in a close 33-29 win over Kansas State.
It was an important home victory that prevents the Cowboys from going 0-2 in conference play. Had the Pokes dropped two games in a row, Big 12 title hopes would begin to look grim—even in a conference as wide open as this one.
But Oklahoma State is going to have to improve on offense if it wants to keep climbing to the top of the league standings. Kicker Ben Grogan had a much better day against Kansas State, going 4-of-5 on field goal attempts—the fifth was blocked and returned for a touchdown—as opposed to the pair of misses he had against WVU.
It's concerning that Grogan had to kick five field goals altogether, though. Oklahoma State forced K-State into five turnovers on Saturday, all in the second half. Four of those—three interceptions and a fumble—resulted in OSU beginning their drive not only in plus territory, but in the red zone.
(The other, a Daniel Sams fumble, resulted in a punt. Also, it should be noted that the final turnover committed by K-State simply iced the game; OSU took a knee on the next play.)
But in the three instances where Oklahoma was given a short field to score off a turnover, the Cowboys came away with only three field goals. Nine points.
In all, OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh went 1-of-4 in those short drives for five yards and the Cowboys rushed five times for six yards.
That has to be worrisome if you're Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. Kansas State looks very little like the team it did a year ago, and didn't have two of its top receiving weapons in Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson. With five turnovers and 12 penalties for 92 yards, it was the most undisciplined game K-State has played all year.
The Pokes' defense deserves some credit for forcing turnovers, but if this team struggled to put K-State away given how the Wildcats played, just imagine how things may have looked if they had gone up against someone who had their act together.
Oklahoma State needs to tighten things up after two straight lackluster offensive showings where there was a real problem with finishing drives. The next three games—at home against TCU and two straight road games at Iowa State and Texas Tech—will prove to be challenges if the Cowboys can't clean things up on offense.