STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Chuba Hubbard entered Saturday’s game as the nation’s leading rusher, yet still felt the need to rebound from what he considered to be a sub-par performance a week earlier.
Hubbard ran for 296 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, and Oklahoma State shut down No. 24 Kansas State’s own vaunted rushing attack in a weather-delayed 26-13 victory.
Hubbard carried just three times in the first quarter for the Cowboys (4-1, 1-1 Big 12), who built a 13-0 lead when the game was halted more than an hour in the second quarter due to lightning. But the breakout star finished with runs of 53, 84 and 44 yards in a dominant performance.
After gaining “just” 121 yards on 37 carries in a 36-30 loss at No. 11 Texas last week, Hubbard felt like he redeemed himself.
“I wasn’t happy with how it went last week, I felt like I let down my team in a lot of ways,” Hubbard said. “Texas obviously played great but I know I could have done a lot more, so this week, I just wanted to bounce back from that and help put my team in a position to win. Everything came together, so it was a good win.
“It’s a great feeling.”
Spencer Sanders added 153 yards passing and a touchdown for Oklahoma State. Most of that went to Tylan Wallace, who hauled in eight passes for 145 yards.
“I think he should be in the Heisman running right now,” Sanders said of Hubbard. “He’s doing great, he’s a big asset to this team and we’re just going to keep getting better each week.”
Skylar Thompson was 11 of 23 for 118 yards for the Wildcats (3-1, 0-1), who were coming off a bye following a big win at Mississippi State.
“We held them to 26 points, which is a good effort by our defense, but we couldn’t get anything going on offense,” said Kansas State first-year coach Chris Klieman, whose team was just 1 of 13 on third downs. “Offensively, we just couldn’t get enough going, especially on 1st-and-10, that was where we struggled. We just didn’t get into a great rhythm on offense and that’s a credit to their defense.”
By the time lightning struck nearby and the officials ordered everyone off the field, the Cowboys had a 208-32 edge in offensive yardage. On the first play following the lengthy layoff, Thompson connected with Samuel Wheeler for a 39-yard pass, eventually leading to Blake Lynch’s 46-yard field goal.
Oklahoma State looked to be securely in control after Hubbard’s 84-yard touchdown run on the Cowboys’ first play of the third quarter, giving them a 23-3 advantage.
“That was a big-time play and we needed that, as a team,” Wallace said of Hubbard’s big run. “It just shows that big-time players go out and make big-time plays like that, and that was something we really needed, so I was real happy about that.”
Kansas State battled back, though, as both its defense and its offense asserted itself in the second half. The defense recorded back to back interceptions of Sanders, by Elijah Sullivan and Darreyl Patterson, and the offense capitalized on both. Lynch’s 37-yard field goal and a 5-yard touchdown run by James Gilbert pulled K-State to within 23-13 with 7:14 remaining.
Oklahoma State drained the clock on its next possession, though, as Matt Ammendola kicked his fourth field goal of the night with 1:03 to go to put the game away.
Kansas State entered the game ranking 10th in the nation in rushing, averaging 280 yards, but struggled for most of this one. Through the first half, the Wildcats gained just 18 yards on 13 carries, and had just 68 heading into the final couple minutes of the third quarter. In the end, the Wildcats wound up with 126 yards on 32 carries (a 3.9-yard average), led by Gilbert’s 44 yards on 12 carries.
Oklahoma State had issues capitalizing in the red zone in its previous game, a 36-30 loss at No. 11 Texas. And once again, the Cowboys could not punch the ball in from inside the 20. It was a pair of field goals and a turnover-on-downs against the Longhorns, while this time Oklahoma State kicked three field goals after stalling within the 5-yard-line, and another within the 15. The big difference Saturday night was the outcome.
With Oklahoma State sitting just outside the Top 25 (they were essentially 27th), and K-State at No. 24, it was always likely that the winner of this game will land in the 20-23 range of the poll, while the loser gets left out. That still looks to be the case, as Oklahoma State should enter the rankings now, while K-State falls off the list.
“He’s a special kid,” said Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson of Hubbard. “He sent me a text early in the week and he said, ‘Hey coach, whatever it takes to win, I’ll take the ball 30 times, I’ll take it five times.’ That’s just a good measure of his character and what he wants to do for this football team. He was great tonight and he deserved a standing ovation.”
Kansas State returns home to take on Baylor next Saturday.
Oklahoma State heads to Lubbock next Saturday to face Texas