SEATTLE, WA—Kendall Hunter ran a career-best two touchdowns, Zac Robinson passed for or 182 yards and ran for another score and Oklahoma State made Washington State’s new offense look inept in the Cowboys’ 39-13 rout of the Cougars on Saturday.
New coach Paul Wulff, the first graduate to lead the Cougars since Phil Sarboe left after the 1949 season, also became the first coach to lose his debut game at Washington State since Jackie Sherrill in 1976. By the end of another three-and-out series late in the fourth quarter, the 41-year-old former Cougars lineman was angrily slapping his hand in silence of Washington State’s annual “home” game across the state.
The Cowboys, seventh last season nationally in total offense at 486 yards per game, gained just 367 yards with coach Mike Gundy primarily calling the plays for the first time in his four seasons as head coach. Twelve of their first 25 points came thanks to a 42-yard punt return by Dez Bryant, a safety and a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Perrish Cox.
Their no-huddle, spread offense didn’t find a groove until the fourth quarter. Robinson, who set an Oklahoma State record with 3,671 yards in total offense last season, and Dez Bryant connected on four passes for 65 yards to set up a 1-yard touchdown sneak by Robinson. That put Oklahoma State up 32-13 with 9:45 left. Hunter ran in untouched from 10 yards two minutes later.
The Cougars are still waiting to get going.
Wulff’s own no-huddle, spread offense showed it still has huge kinks from its summer implementation. It gained 51 yards on its first 28 plays into the third quarter against an Oklahoma State defense that allowed 443 total yards per game last season—101st out of 119 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Cougars trailed 18-0 before they finally crossed into the Cowboys’ side of midfield, midway through the third quarter. That drive ended with star receiver Brandon Gibson, who had three drops but finished with six catches for 53 yards, making a twisting catch in the end zone of 9-yard pass from Gary Rogers.
Then Washington State’s problems in its kicking game turned decisive. Wade Penner shanked the extra point to keep the Cougars down 18-6 with six minutes left in the third quarter.
Then Cox zigzagged without a WSU player getting near him for his third career touchdown on a kickoff return to send the Cowboys cruising, up 25-6.
Rogers, a fifth-year senior making his first career start with record-setting Alex Brink graduated, was 12 of 24 for 82 yards passing with a touchdown, one interception and two sacks while continually skipping passes low and behind receivers. He had Gibson open running toward the goal line at the Oklahoma State 20 in the first quarter but threw behind him. That allowed Jacob Lacey to break up the pass. Gibson then dropped a throw while open near midfield on WSU’s final drive of an inept first half and another in the end zone in the second half.
The Cougars’ day in reverse reached its nadir midway through the second quarter when four consecutive plays over two drives went for a total of minus-12 yards.
The Cowboys made it 15-0 at the end of the half on the second of three field goals by Dan Bailey, from 21 yards.