OSU football: Five takeaways from Cowboys' 27-13 win over West Virginia
STILLWATER — Oklahoma State isn’t blowing opponents away with its offense through two games.
But the Cowboys’ defense has stepped up.
On Saturday, the Cowboys did just enough to beat West Virginia 27-13 inside Boone Pickens Stadium to move to 2-0 on the season.
Here are five takeaways from the win:
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1. The freshman gets the start
Quarterback Spencer Sanders warmed up. But it was freshman Shane Illingworth who earned the start for the Cowboys.
And Illingworth wasted little time trying to make an impact. On OSU’s first offensive play, he went deep to Dillon Stoner, who dove for the catch. It was ruled incomplete, which was held up on review.
But from there, Illingworth was mostly fine as the Cowboys’ offense took little risks.
Illingworth completed 15 of 21 passes for 139 yards. He did throw his first interception in the third quarter. He appeared to hold onto the ball just a tad too long, allowing Tony Fields II to jump the route.
Later, Illingworth missed a snap on the final drive, but recovered it.
Sanders never entered the game a week after suffering an ankle injury.
2. Defense again leads the way
For the second straight week, it was the defense that led the way to the victory.
The Cowboys didn’t entirely shut down West Virginia’s up-tempo attack. It was more of a bend-don’t-break approach.
The Mountaineers totaled 353 yards, dominating the time of possession. They also used a plethora of slants to move the ball through the air.
WVU’s lone touchdown was a 70-yard touchdown reception by Winston Wright Jr. But the Mountaineers were held to field goals otherwise, including one that failed on a botched hold.
WVU quarterback Jarret Doege also paid for what seemed to be nearly every throw. The Cowboys pressured him well, often hitting him. They totaled five sacks.
OSU’s defense also provided one of the best highlights of the day with a 56-yard fumble return for a touchdown by junior college transfer Tyren Irby. Sophomore Trace Ford forced the fumble on a sack of Doege. Irby scooped the loose ball and rumbled to the end zone, narrowly avoiding being caught near the goal line for an early 14-0 advantage.
3. Running back chaos
OSU’s running back situation is getting messy.
Star Chuba Hubbard has struggled overall through two games, though he did close the game with a 23-yard touchdown.
But that was after he fumbled twice.
The Cowboys are getting a star-like performance from LD Brown — both as a running back and dancer.
Brown scored on a 66-yard touchdown run — honoring Thurman Thomas’ Ring of Honor induction with the Cabbage Patch dance as a celebration — and finished with 103 yards on 11 carries.
Brown even opened the second half in the backfield.
He outgained Hubbard. Hubbard rushed for 101 yards on 22 carries, surpassing 3,000 career rushing yards.
And Dez Jackson even got a chance after Hubbard’s second fumble. Jackson had just one catch — but no carries — last season in three games. On Saturday, he rushed for 10 yards on three carries.
4. Offensive line shows some improvement
The Cowboys were without their starting right side of the offensive line — Cole Birmingham and Hunter Anthony.
But a week of preparing for that made a bit of a difference.
Teven Jenkins started at right tackle and Hunter Woodard started at right guard. And that side of the line looked more comfortable this week.
OSU rushed for 203 yards and Illingworth was sacked just once.
And the line really delivered late, helping the Cowboys ice the game with a methodical drive that began with nearly 9 minutes remaining. It ended with the Cowboys getting a Hubbard touchdown with 1:17 remaining.
5. Special teams delivers
Special teams play appears to be an issue for some programs to start this wacky season, but not for the Cowboys.
Kicker Alex Hale remained perfect on the season — making two field goals, including a 44-yarder.
Even punter Tom Hutton looked strong, averaging 44.8 yards per punt. He put three punts inside the 20.