In a matchup that touted a strong Oklahoma State offense from the Big XII conference against the strength of Virginia Tech’s defense from the Atlantic Coast Conference, it was the explosive play of the Cowboys that would prove to be too much for the Hokies.
In tightly contested games it is usually the team that makes the least number of mistakes who comes out victorious. As was the case in Orlando as the Cowboys avoided committing turnovers, while the Hokies would finish committing two in critical situations, proving to be the difference in the game.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy spoke about the key plays by the defense saying, “We were able to make turnovers and make key stops, we made good adjustments at halftime, and then were able to make key stops early in the third quarter.”
With the defense making crucial stops, the offense was able to open up and deliver the big play ability they are known so well by. Led by Senior quarterback Mason Rudolph, the Cowboys looked to strike, and Rudolph delivered one final performance that Oklahoma State fans will remember forever.
Rudolph finished the game as the Camping World Bowl’s MVP, completing 21 of his 32 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns. The play of the game was a beautiful 65-yard pass from Rudolph to his favorite receiver in Senior wideout James Washington, who would reel in the pass and run into the endzone for the final OSU touchdown of the game. Rudolph was asked what it was like to make one final highlight play with Washington which he said was “the cherry on top” of their OSU careers.
Washington led the way for the receivers, finishing with five receptions for 126-yards and the long touchdown. Joining Washington was Redshirt Senior receiver Marcell Ateman, who brought in five catches of his own for 107-yards. The great play by the seniors of Oklahoma State was a great send off for a group that became the first Oklahoma State class to complete three straight ten win seasons.
Coach Gundy on the three straight ten win seasons, “There is a lot of credit that needs to go to this group and what they have accomplished. He continued, “We as a staff are very proud of them.”
Not to be outdone, Sophomore running back Justice Hill continued his stellar season, capping it off with 120-yards rushing and a touchdown right before halftime that gave Oklahoma State full control heading into the locker room. Oklahoma State was able to hold off a late game comeback attempt by Virginia Tech in large part to a game sealing play by Hill, who on a 3rd and 11 play would not only convert, but place the Cowboys squarely into field goal range to extend their lead to nine points. The play was crucial, as Virginia Tech had begun to build momentum on a touchdown drive on their previous possession.
Virginia Tech defensive tackle Ricky Walker spoke about the play saying, “That play was tough. Watching the film, we knew on 3rd and 9 and long that they were a team that liked to run the ball.” He continued, “They made a good call and they executed it. There’s nothing else to it.”
In the end, the lead was too large for the Hokies comeback attempt. The big play ability of the offense, partnered with mistake free play by the whole team, was enough for the Cowboys to be victorious. The win caps off a ten-win season for the Cowboys, who, with the departure of key skill players on both sides of the ball, must now look to the future if they are going reach the ten-win mark for the fourth consecutive year.