MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Before he can focus on Bedlam, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy wants to eliminate some sloppy play that slowed the Cowboys in a double-digit win in rainy West Virginia.
West Virginia recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. Less than a minute later, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph threw an interception that was returned for another score in the Cowboys’ 50-39 win Saturday.
Gundy’s tone was subdued afterward and mixed more with disappointment than celebration.
He suggests the 11th-ranked Cowboys are not yet ready to face No. 8 Oklahoma on Saturday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with first place on the line in the tight Big 12 race. The teams have identical records at 7-1 overall, 4-1 in the conference, and enter the game tied with Iowa State and TCU at the top of the standings.
“Well, we got the win, but we’re making way, way, way too many mistakes,” Gundy said. “Very fortunate to get out of here. Thrilled with the way our team overcomes adversity.”
Oklahoma State lost all three of its fumbles. Two came on the game’s opening two drives inside Cowboys territory, but West Virginia couldn’t score points off them.
In its last three games, Oklahoma State has fumbled nine times, losing six.
In addition to allowing the blocked punt , Oklahoma State missed an extra-point kick after a dropped snap.
“We’ve got a lot of room for improvement in a lot of areas,” Gundy said. “I’ve never been fired up about teams that were undisciplined and had self-inflicted errors.”
When it comes to correcting mistakes, “we don’t have a choice,” Gundy said. “Oklahoma is a really good team. If you make mistakes and continue to shoot yourself in the foot, eventually it’s going to catch you.”
Things weren’t all gloomy. With West Virginia’s defense focused on stopping the pass, freshman J.D. King erupted for a season-high 142 rushing yards on 36 carries in place of Justice Hill, who was injured on the game’s first series after fumbling the ball away and didn’t return until the fourth quarter.
Gundy also praised his secondary along with a pass rush that pressured West Virginia’s Will Grier, who completed just 20 of 42 passes and threw four interceptions.
The anticipated aerial show between Grier and Rudolph was more of a mismatch.
Rudolph threw three touchdown passes to give him 77 for his career, breaking the school record of 75 set by Brandon Weeden from 2007-11. And in earning his 29th win as a starter, Rudolph broke Gundy’s school record set from 1986 to 1989.
He’ll get a chance to add to those against the Sooners, who beat Texas Tech 49-27 Saturday .
“We’re going to get home and get healthy,” Rudolph said. “We’ll focus in and develop a good plan. We’ve got one at our place. It’s going to be a great week.”
West Virginia (5-3, 3-2 Big 12), which fell out of the AP poll this week, has been relegated to a spoiler’s role. The Mountaineers couldn’t get their running game going for a third straight week and that likely cost them a shot of getting into the Big 12 championship game, barring a meltdown by the four teams ahead of them in the standings.
West Virginia will play No. 14 Iowa State at home on Saturday.
“We’re sitting here at 5-3 with three losses to top 12 teams,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “We’re just not one of those top 12 teams right now.”
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