For Chuba Hubbard and Oklahoma State, it wasn’t pretty, but in the end, when it really mattered, he and his team made the plays they needed to.
Hubbard scored on a 23-yard run with 1:17 remaining to salvage a difficult afternoon and help No. 15 Oklahoma State beat West Virginia 27-13 on Saturday.
Sidelined for a number of key plays after fumbling on consecutive second-half possessions, Hubbard ended up with 101 yards on 22 rushes for his 12th 100-yard performance in his last 13 games. With the additional action, Hubbard’s backup, L.D. Brown, gained 103 yards on 11 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown run, for Oklahoma State (2-0, 1-0 Big 12).
It was the first time since a 2016 contest against TCU that Oklahoma State had two different running backs rush for over 100 yards in a Big 12 outing.
“It’s not good when you put the ball on the ground,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said about Hubbard. “And he knows that and he did come back in late and made a cut and made a score, and did good for us, but this is not a secret. He needs to take care of the football.”
True freshman backup quarterback Shane Illingworth, in his first collegiate start, completed 15 of 21 passes for 139 yards, but also had an interception, for the Cowboys.
“That’s part of football, you’re not going to be able to have games where everything goes as planned,” said receiver Tylan Wallace, who had six receptions for 78 yards. “You know you’re going to face adversity, we had a lot of that today, and I’m just happy that we fought to the end. I couldn’t ask for more than guys making a play when their number is called.”
Jarret Doege threw for 285 yards and a touchdown for West Virginia (1-1, 0-1), which actually outgained Oklahoma State 353-342. Winston Wright had four catches for 103 yards, including a 70-yard score late in the second quarter.
West Virginia, which has now lost six in a row to Oklahoma State dating back to 2014, was hurt by several costly penalties, getting flagged 12 times for 106 yards.
“Today was not good enough,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said. “That’s the story of the game – extremely disappointing performance. We were an undisciplined football team today, and that’s on me, that’s on our coaches. We talk all the time about WVU not beating WVU.”
Oklahoma State came through with a key turnover early in the second quarter. After defensive end Trace Ford forced a fumble by hitting Doege’s arm while he was about to pass, Tyren Irby scooped up the loose ball in the backfield and raced 56 yards for the touchdown that made it 14-0.
At that point, Hubbard had gained just 10 yards on three carries, and Brown had already scored, with his explosive touchdown run on his first touch of the game. Hubbard, who led the nation in rushing last year with 2,094 yards, played better after that, but then he fumbled late in the third quarter and then again early in the fourth. Those plays could have been extremely costly but fortunately, Cowboy offensive linemen recovered the ball each time.
“He’s great, I just told him to just get out of his head,” Brown said of Hubbard, who had 93 yards on 27 carries, including the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter, in last week’s 16-7 win over Tulsa. “He feels he’s not playing the way Chuba’s supposed to play. I told him it’s okay, it’s going to pick up, it’s a team sport, and at the end of the day, we got the W, and that’s all we care about.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers moved the ball well throughout the first half and really appeared to be controlling the game, but they still trailed 20-7 at halftime despite holding significant advantages in yardage and total offensive plays. With five minutes left in the half, trailing 17-0, West Virginia had an edge in offensive plays of 39-21. Overall for the half, they led in total offense, 270-213, and that edge persisted throughout the entire game.
Oklahoma State: It was a game-time decision, but starting quarterback Spencer Sanders ultimately did not play, due to a right foot injury suffered during the first quarter last week. Illingworth, who completed 4 of 5 passes for 74 yards to spark the comeback 16-7 victory over Tulsa, played the entire game and looked pretty good, managing the offense well. He was 10 for 15 for 102 yards in the first half, but outside of a 32-yard completion to Wallace in the first quarter, most of his passes were check-downs underneath.
Oklahoma State will remain in the Top 20, but will likely drop a couple of spots after another unimpressive victory. West Virginia, which received votes and was just outside the Top 25, will probably drop further and not be back up for consideration for at least a couple more weeks.
Oklahoma State honored former running back Thurman Thomas (1984-87) at halftime, inducting him as the first player in their new Ring of Honor. His name and his No. 34 was unveiled atop the west end zone at Boone Pickens Stadium. Thomas, who was the Big Eight’s Offensive Player of the Year in 1985 and ’87, is still the OSU's leading rusher with 5,001 yards and his 50 total touchdowns rank second. Thomas, who went on to play 14 years in the NFL, 13 with the Buffalo Bills, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and the National College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
“You just got to find a way to win somehow and it’s not pretty,” Gundy said. “That’s not how you draw it up. It’s just an unusual year and it’s different than it ever has been, so the guys have to find a way to win a football game and make enough plays.”
West Virginia returns home to take on Baylor next Saturday.
Oklahoma State heads out on the road next Saturday, visiting Kansas.