West Virginia-Oklahoma St. Preview
West Virginia climbed into the Top 25 after an impressive showing last weekend, while Oklahoma State dropped out following its most lopsided defeat in six seasons.
Seeking a fourth consecutive win, the 22nd-ranked Mountaineers try to hand the Cowboys another major blow as these Big 12 rivals square off in Stillwater on Saturday.
Clint Trickett threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns as West Virginia (5-2, 3-1) stunned then-No. 4 Baylor 41-27 last Saturday. The Mountaineers outscored the Bears 14-0 in the fourth quarter and held them to a season-low 318 yards of offense.
"I felt like we were pretty good," coach Dana Holgorsen told the team's official website. "I commend our players for being very motivated. ... (But) you turn the page and move on. We've got Oklahoma State (this week), which will be a tough game on the road."
The Cowboys (5-2, 3-1) had averaged 38.4 points during a five-game winning streak before being routed 42-9 at then-No. 12 TCU on Saturday. Daxx Garman went 10 of 25 for 132 yards with two interceptions as Oklahoma State was outgained 676-258.
The Cowboys' 33-point defeat was their largest since a 56-20 loss at then-No. 2 Texas Tech on Nov. 8, 2008.
"We haven't had a day like that in a long time around here," said coach Mike Gundy, whose team failed to score a touchdown for the first time in 59 games. "Our team is doing just fine. They'll practice hard this week and they'll play hard this Saturday."
Despite last week's effort, Gundy is sticking with Garman under center. The sophomore has thrown for 1,493 yards with 10 scores and seven picks in six games since taking over for the injured J.W. Walsh.
"I think part of my responsibility right now is not to panic," Gundy said. "It's kind of like algebra. We're trying to figure out the first form to get to the next one. ... Now we're going to have to put it together. If we can improve in certain areas and improve in the basics, then it'll allow the quarterback to play better."
Oklahoma State has to like its chances of bouncing back at Boone Pickens Stadium, where it's won each of its four games by an average of 18.5 points.
The Cowboys beat West Virginia 55-34 at home in 2012 before falling 30-21 in Morgantown on Sept. 28, 2013. The Mountaineers are trying to open 3-0 on the road for the first time since 2006.
"We're facing another team that's playing well right now," Gundy said. "We'll have our hands full, but there's nothing that's changed other than trying to get better in all three areas. We need to find a way to move the ball and score some points and eliminate West Virginia from getting big plays."
The Cowboys figure to focus plenty of their defensive attention on Kevin White, who leads the FBS with 145.7 receiving yards per game. The senior has topped 100 in all seven games after making eight catches for 132 yards and two scores against Baylor.
"He keeps getting better and I think his best football is ahead of him," Holgorsen said. "He's doing what some of the best ones I've seen (did)."
White could be leaned on even more if leading rusher Rushel Shell can't play. The sophomore back had posted back-to-back 100-yard efforts before exiting with an ankle injury early last weekend.
Cornerbacks Daryl Worley (ribs) and Terrell Chestnut (head) are also uncertain to be available.
"Having guys go in to play at a high level when guys go down is what you have to do if you want to win games in the Big 12," Holgorsen said.
Oklahoma State is 4-2 in its last six home games against Top 25 foes but has dropped four straight overall against ranked opponents.
Gundy can breathe a sigh of relief after the NCAA issued a statement Tuesday that allegations of widespread misconduct in the program outlined by Sports Illustrated last year were "fundamentally unfounded."
However, the Cowboys are now dealing with the arrests of receiver Jhajuan Seales and cornerback Juwan Offray on complaints of public intoxication last weekend. It's unclear if they will play Saturday.