Oklahoma State takes advantage of WVU turnovers, beats Mountaineers 55-34
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 09:11
West Virginia knew life in the Big 12 Conference would be tough.
But it wasn’t expecting it to be this tough.
Oklahoma State (6-3, 4-2) took advantage of critical West Virginia (5-4, 2-4) special team errors, handing the visitors their fourth-straight loss in conference play in front of 57,799 at Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday evening.
The 55-34 win for the Cowboys marked the first time in WVU program history the Mountaineers have lost four straight conference outings.
West Virginia was able to claw its way to within four points midway through the third quarter after trailing by 14 at the half, but it couldn’t quite get over the hump.
"You can’t make very, very simple mistakes – junior high mistakes – and beat a good football team," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "(We) made too many very basic, fundamental mistakes on all three sides of the ball, which that means you’re going to get beat."
The mistakes the former Oklahoma State assistant referenced were two fumbles on special teams, as well as a kickoff Oklahoma State returned for a touchdown in the first quarter.
The three glaring mistakes resulted in three scores by the Cowboys.
"It was bad. I understand how bad it was," Holgorsen said. "The return issues that we had were just flat out unacceptable … Special teams we just flat out, obviously, gave them 17 points."
Oklahoma State started third-string quarterback Clint Chelf.
Chelf responded with nearly 300 yards passing and four touchdowns, and Cowboy wide receiver Josh Stewart recorded 13 catches for 172 yards and two scores, as well as a 46-yard touchdown run on a reverse.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had his most impressive game statistically in more than a month, while completing 36 of 54 passes for 364 yards and two touchdowns.
"It’s a tough loss. We seem like we can’t find a way to win. We’re finding ways to lose, actually," Smith said. "We’ve just got to figure it out. Somehow, someway, we’ve got to bounce back. We’ve got three weeks left."
Mountaineer wide receiver Stedman Bailey, who was nagged by injury in the last three games, was able to rebound with more than 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
The fact West Virginia received impressive games from multiple offensive players and still fell short of victory was very disappointing for the newest members of the Big 12.
"It was pretty disappointing," Holgorsen said. "It was good to see Stedman back on track; (I) thought the protection was decent. To win on the road in this league, it’s tough. To win at home in this league is tough.
"As a team, we’re finding that out, and it’s uncharted territory to a lot of people that are involved, but you can’t make those kind of mistakes and beat anyone in this league."
West Virginia won’t have much time to dwell on this defeat. The Mountaineers will host No. 12 Oklahoma next Saturday at home.
Smith just hopes the mistakes don’t make the trip back to Morgantown with his team.
"It’s just one of those things where just at the right time, something bad happens. There’s not really any way to explain," Smith said. "It’s one of those things where you can’t put your finger on it."