LAWRENCE, Kan. – Oklahoma State had control of the game soon after it started. The game never felt out of reach for Kansas until two minutes remained in the fourth quarter.
In its first road test of the season, the Cowboys torched the Jayhawks 48-28 on Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. OSU scored on its opening drive, but until running back Chuba Hubbard scored with 2:38 left, it never felt as if OSU was going to win.
OSU’s defense held Kansas to 368 total yards, but penalties, inexperience and turnovers continued to plague the Cowboys from pulling away.
“I was proud of how our guys started the game,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “We were poor on special teams. Way too many penalties. We’re undisciplined, and it’s my fault.”
Kansas’ first score came after true freshman Jarrick Bernard roughed the punter, giving the Jayhawks (2-3 overall, 0-2 Big 12) a first down. Three plays later, Bernard got beat on a route.
It was one of the few OSU mistakes Kansas capitalized on.
To begin the second half, a defensive holding penalty on Thabo Mwaniki gave the Jawhawks another first down. The next play, Pooka Williams Jr., a highly-touted true freshman running back, scampered up the middle for a 60-yard score, making it 24-14.
OSU (4-1, 1-1) had one turnover, a Taylor Cornelius interception on an underthrown deep pattern to Tylan Wallace. The Jayhawks turned the ball over on their ensuing possession, securing the Cowboy lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Cornelius completed 15 of his 20 passes for 312 yards and four scores. Sophomore Landon Wolf, who replaced Jalen McCleskey in the starting lineup, led OSU with six catches for 116 yards and one score. Tylan Wallace had his fourth straight 100-yard receiving game, and he also hauled in a score.
Tyron Johnson caught the other two touchdowns.
“It was a good team win,” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “I think our offense showed balance today. We just gotta keep improving.”
Justice Hill had a season-high in carries (31) and yards (189). He rushed for a touchdown in the 11th consecutive game, which tied the Big 12 running back record for consecutive games scoring at least one touchdown.
The win moved OSU’s record to 7-0 the last two seasons in road games, and Gundy improved his record to 32-17 after a loss. Saturday’s game was the first time OSU led the time of possession battle this season, having the ball for 31:20.
Even as Kansas made it a 13-point game twice in the fourth quarter, OSU responded with touchdowns of its own both times. The Cowboys never lost control of the game, but it never felt like Kansas was going to make a run throughout.
OSU finished with eight penalties for 92 yards. during the first half of the last two games, OSU has had 14 penalties. In the second half? One, which occurred Saturday.
Gundy said he still sees room for improvement.
“Overall, it was a good win for us,” Gundy said. “Corndog continues to play well and continues to make good decisions. We’ve just got to get better each week.”