To make matters worse, WVU's special teams gave up Justin Gilbert's Big 12-record fifth career kickoff return for a touchdown and fumbled a kickoff to give the Cowboys an easy 26-yard Quinn Sharp field goal. Chelf also hit a wide-open tight end Blake Jackson down the middle of the field for a 48-yard TD on a first-and-20 play to account for OSU's 31 first-half points.
For those thinking last week's performance against TCU was an encouraging sign, that's the same point total the Mountaineers gave up that afternoon in four quarters.
This time, though, the offense responded enough to keep things interesting, even if it did come in some bizarre forms.
WVU's first touchdown, for example, was thrown by Paul Millard. He had to come in for a play when Smith had his helmet come off during the previous play, and sat in the pocket forever before throwing a 37-yard score to Bailey in the end zone on a fourth-and-13 play.
The Mountaineers also got a 17-yard score on a wide receiver screen from Smith pass to Tavon Austin and a 41-yard Tyler Bitancurt field goal set up by 30 yards of OSU penalties on a kickoff. But they also wasted a 16-play drive in the second quarter when they went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 2 and got nothing on a power-play run with Shawne Alston.
So OSU led 31-17 at halftime, but a 75-yard Smith-to-Bailey bomb began the second half for the Mountaineers and that put them in position to score on Smith's 9-yard pass to Ryan Nehlen. That cut it to 31-24 with most of the second half to play.
West Virginia might have had the ball with a chance to tie but for another special teams blunder. Austin signaled everyone to move away from an OSU punt that was going to hit the ground, and they did. He didn't. The ball bounced off Austin and was recovered by OSU, leading to a Chelf touchdown pass to Charlie Moore and a 38-24 lead.
West Virginia's defense, though, had been quietly holding Oklahoma State for most of the second half, giving up just the one touchdown on a 12-yard drive. Then Terrence Garvin made a big play, intercepting a tipped Chelf pass and returning it 42 yards to the 1, from where Smith scored on the next play to draw within 38-34. Sharp added another field goal, but it was a one-touchdown game going to the fourth quarter, 41-34, before it fell apart in the sea of mistakes.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.