10 thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 24-19 loss to West Virginia

STILLWATER — With rain pouring down from the sky, the Cowboys’ regular season mercifully finally came to an end.

Oklahoma State fell 24-19 to West Virginia at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday as OSU finished the regular season, winning just one of their last five games. Here are 10 thoughts from Saturday’s competition.

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1. Two crucial Freshman-to-Freshman Wheel routes remain empty

The Cowboys followed a similar concept on two crucial offensive games — and neither was successful.

When the Cowboys scored late in the third quarter to move up to 21-19, they wisely chose 2. True freshman Garret Rangel threw true freshman Ollie Gordon on a bike route, but the ball landed sprightly on an orange turf .

But the Cowboys got the ball back and drove on.

Trailing 24-19, OSU had a 4th and 3rd on the WVU 28-yard line. Gordon was sent down a bike route again, and again the ball fell harmlessly onto the turf.

If you don’t succeed at first, try again – I guess. Or the definition of insanity does the same thing but expects different results. Choose your cliché.

Dunn said Rangel would ideally have worked through his advances and hit Brennan Presley with his flat cross.

“It wasn’t necessarily about Ollie,” said OSU offense coordinator Kasey Dunn. “…We actually wanted to come back from that through progression. It’s just a young quarterback, and he’s thrown the wheel to Ollie a few times, and Ollie’s a great receiver, so I see why he’s — he’s a great running back who catches the ball. I understand why he went there, but the way they passed the thing on was a step through progression and flat of what would have been BP. We have the numbers. In my eyes it kind of went there.

“It’s just one of those things. An experienced QB is likely to move through. A younger guy says, “Hey, the coaches told me it’s going to be like this in men’s coverage.” Well, it’s neither here nor there, really. But I thought it would be a good number and I was really thinking of taking it to BP.”

2. Presley shines early, doesn’t get the ball late

Brennan Presley was the Cowboys’ offense early on. At one point he had 63 receiving yards while OSU only had 60 total offensive yards — tell me how that works? (Sacks, like this).

He completed five of his seven goals for 77 yards, but according to stats, he didn’t hit a goal in the last 17:16 of the ballgame. With OSU trying to find a way back into this, trying to force-feed Presley the ball would have been better than not getting it at all.

“He’s a dynamic player,” said Dunn. “We have to find a way to get him football.”

3. Johnson’s Tough Endgame at Boone Pickens Stadium

The Cowboys made a lot of shots, especially late to Braydon Johnson. Johnson finished catching four of his 11 targets with a handful of drops.

It certainly wasn’t an easy day being a receiver in the pouring rain and with a quarterback only making his second start. Johnson’s game, the most talked about on Saturday, came on OSU’s final drive. He almost brought in a ball that would have put OSU in the red zone, but as he tried to contain a foot the ball splattered free.

Then there were a few balls that could have been thrown better, but were also balls that Johnson could have brought in.

Credit to Johnson, he faced the music postgame.

“[The conditions are] definitely tough, but at the end of the day we get paid to catch the ball,” Johnson said. “After all, these are our jobs, regardless of external circumstances. We have to take care of this job.”

4. The OSU defense is having a solid day… Outside of three games

West Virginia rushed 64 games Saturday — three of them combined for 147 yards and 21 points. The other 61 combined for 180 yards and 3 points.

Three games was the difference in these soaked OSU fans who left the game happy regardless of some offensive errors. Even stopping one would have made a world of difference.

On back-to-back drives in the third quarter, WVU running back Jaylen Anderson broke touchdown runs for 54 and 57 yards. These came shortly after Kendal Daniels left the game with an injury.

5. The QB carousel continues

OSU’s last five starting quarterbacks were as follows:

in the state of Kanas – Spencer Sanders
in Kansas—Garret Rangel
v. Iowa State – Gunnar Gundy
in Oklahoma—Spencer Sanders
vs. West Virginia – Garret Rangel

If this pattern holds, Gunnar Gundy should start the OSU bowl game. It was one of the strangest parts of this incredibly strange year.

6. And Spencer Sanders’ situation is getting weirder

Spencer Sanders is devastated. He started last weekend but got fired six times, which probably doesn’t help the whole thing break.

He didn’t warm up on Saturday but turned up in full pads to the Senior Day celebrations. And he stood in full cushions on the sidelines. I wondered if OSU would see another Mariano Rivera-style save where he comes out in the fourth quarter to take a game like Iowa State did. He did not do it. And when asked if Sanders was available all Saturday, here’s what Mike Gundy said.

“I really don’t know how to answer that anymore,” Gundy said. “It just depends on how he’s feeling and where our medical people are. It’s not an injury that’s black and white. It’s a gray area, so just roll with it while you go.”

7. Even in the downpour and with a freshman quarterback, Pokes lacked confidence in ground attacks

In terms of weather, this was probably the worst game OSU has played in since at least Bedlam in 2016.

If you remember that day, OSU lost to Oklahoma 38-20 with Mason Rudolph, a junior at the time, after attempting just 25 passes. On Saturday, Garret Rangel, a freshman, threw the ball 27 times in the first half. Rangel fell behind in OSU’s first seven offensive games.

I imagine Rangel hasn’t quite gained the trust that Rudolph had from OSU’s coaching staff back then, so that crazy stat probably says a lot about where OSU knows their running game is — which isn’t a great place.

Rangel ended the game 18-for-42 for 148 yards.

It turns out that OSU had a running game, which we’ll get to. But it’s hard to blame the staff for not thinking it would show up on Saturday because it’s not all season.

“We felt like we had to be able to make up for some of our problems when we were rushing the ball. We felt that if we could try and add some depth and breadth to the defense with passes it could open up a little running game and I’m not sure it didn’t work. And then a small part of these numbers are inflated because of the last possessions. Like we’re behind. He’s probably thrown it 10 times in the last 15 games so it got a bit inflated because he was behind and trying to keep the clock.

8. But there was a running game, and it was Ollie Gordon

But it turned out that Saturday was the day — OSU has been able to keep the ball on the ground all season, despite the problems that came with it.

Ollie Gordon was the workhorse as Dominic Richardson missed the game entirely and Jaden Nixon retired through injury. Gordon, a former four-star contender with offers in Michigan, Texas, Arkansas and others, hit the rock a career-high 17 times, rushing for 136 yards and a point.

It was OSU’s highest rushing yardage total of the season. Richardson had a 131-yard outing against Arizona State but did so with 27 carries.

Prior to Saturday, Gordon had not had more than seven carries in a game.

Deondre Jackson, a transfer from A&M who at one point had offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Florida and others, also had a solid game when he had most of the opportunities he had as a cowboy. Jackson finished the match with 12 carries and 56 yards.

9. The problems in the first quarter continue

In OSU’s last five regular-season games, the Cowboys have been outplayed 59-0 in the first quarter.

It’s almost like there’s some kind of force field around their end zone in the first quarter of these games. OSU even scored in the first game of the second quarter on Saturday.

10. That weird (regular) season is over

What a strange year.

In its first seven games, OSU averaged 44.7 points per game and went 6-1. In its last five games, OSU has averaged 13.6 points per game and gone 1-4. How… what?

Injuries have undoubtedly decimated this team. Spencer Sanders, Tyler Lacy, Trace Ford, Bryson Green, Blaine Green, Dominic Richardson, pretty much every offensive lineman at some point — it wasn’t pretty. But from a top 10 team with the Big 12 title game feeling like a suspension to wondering if the Cheez-It Bowl will be too big for OSU is odd.

The downpour was a fitting end.