Oklahoma State won by double digits for the first time all season on Saturday, and it came against its only ranked opponent to date.
The 31-20 win over No. 25 Kansas State was as watchable as it was satisfying, too. The Pokes not only won but they looked good in the process. That wasn’t the case in Week 1, nor in Week 2, and ditto for Week 3.
It was in Week 4.
Time to hand out grades.
There has been a lot in flux for OSU to start the season. Mike Gundy went so far as to recently call it “unusual.” But credit to OSU’s coaching staff. They’ve been nails to this point to get to 4-0 given all the injuries and attrition. And they were again nails Saturday against a very, very good Kansas State team. They came with a good game plan that allowed Spencer Sanders to play free and loose, and on defense the unit — as is now custom — came with the energy to anchor the team. The Wildcats scored just one offensive touchdown (on a busted scramble play) and the other touchdown came on a kick return. It was again a stellar outing for OSU’s coaches.
Running game: B+
OSU found a groove last week in Boise riding running back Jaylen Warren for 218 yards and a pair of scores and it kept that momentum rolling against Kansas State. Warren rushed for 123 yards on 27 attempts as he took the lion’s share of the work again. And, most importantly, with OSU needing to run the ball and drain clock late, Warren was there scurrying through holes to move chains. Getting the offensive line back to fully healthy has been big and between that and the emergence of Warren, the running game is trending in the right direction after an ugly start to the season.
The two Kansas State quarterbacks in the game combined to go 14-of-31 passing for 198 yards, one score and one INT. On the ground, K-State rushed for 62 yards on 25 attempts. 62 yards! OSU has a defense. And oh, by the way, if you take out the fluky Deuce Vaughn scramble and score, K-State only has 143 yards passing. This is the strength of the team and it’s not close. Fortunately, that strength is really, really good.
Passing game: B
A week after completing six total passes for 82 yards, Spencer Sanders and the passing game exploded against Kansas State as he completed 22 of 34 attempts for 344 yards, two scores and zero picks.
I praised OSU’s coaching staff last week for its ability to win the game despite missing a huge contingent of its reliable receiving corps, so here’s where I said told ya so because wowie oh Maui, does it make a difference. With Tay Martin back in the lineup he exploded for 100 yards, nine receptions and a score. Warren as the dump-off guy finished second on the team in receiving with 81 yards and Brennan Presley had 53 yards and a touchdown on two receptions.
The way Sanders has played since starting his season in Week 2 has been encouraging — he has just one turnover and is playing with confidence — but Saturday marked a potential corner-turn. He played free and loose as he unleashed with confidence and unlocked a once-dormant OSU passing attack. Let’s hope it’s here to stay.
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