Reporting Paul Gallant
Houston (CBS Houston) – Oklahoma State. Defense. It’s rare you’ll see those two words in the same sentence…unless it’s a negative one.
But today at Reliant Stadium was the exception. The 13th ranked Cowboys frustrated Mississippi State’s offense for 60 minutes, cruising to a 21-3 victory over the Bulldogs.
“The story of the game for us is our defense,” said Oklahoma St. Head Coach Mike Gundy. “There hadn’t been many games in Oklahoma St. over the last five to six years, maybe even longer than that, where defense was the story.”
The film didn’t lie. Neither did the stats. Mississippi St. threw two costly interceptions and was a paltry 2-16 on third down.
“2 of 16. That’s terrible,” said Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen about his teams performance on third down. “They were momentum killers. Especially early on for us.”
Yeah they were. Mississippi St. was moving the ball at will in the first quarter, though it never translated to the scoreboard. Their first drive ended with a 40 yard field goal. The second? An interception at Oklahoma State’s 37. After that, the Bulldogs were invisible offensively.
Another game changer? Gundy’s decision to bench senior quarterback Clint Chelf for sophomore J.W. Walsh. Walsh took time to get in gear. But after a 46 yard scramble, he and his Cowboys took off.
“When J.W. came in he kind of gave us a spark,” said Gundy. “Before that [run] we hadn’t done anything. We were about as blah as we’d ever been.”
“I think [the run] kind of was a big spark plug,” said Walsh – who was quick to credit his teammates for his performance. “It was nice to be able to get in a rhythm and be able to start moving the ball.”
Walsh’s 46 yard scamper would lead to Oklahoma State’s first TD of the game, where he took it in from three yards. The sophomore had a game high 125 yards rushing, and added 135 more by air. Combined with Jeremy Smith (102 yards, 2 TD) in the read option, Walsh never allowed Mississippi State back in the game.
The Cowboys improve to 1-0, and travel to San Antonio next week for a matchup with UTSA. The Bulldogs, now 0-1, host Alcorn State next Saturday.