Mason Rudolph threw for 457 yards and five touchdowns, Chris Carson provided the go-ahead score and No. 22 Oklahoma State picked off Jesse Ertz’s pass to the end zone on the final play of the game to preserve a 43-37 victory over Kansas State on Saturday.
The Cowboys (7-2, 5-1, No. 18 CFP) kept their Big 12 title hopes alive thanks to a critical stop on third-and-inches early in the fourth quarter. They trailed 37-28 at that point, and an 82-yard touchdown pass from Rudolph to James Washington, and Carson’s 17-yard scoring run wiped that away.
Kansas State (5-4, 3-3) got the ball back with 1:39 left and quickly marched downfield. But after converting on fourth-and-5 to remain alive, an offensive pass interference penalty pushed them back to the 13 with 4 seconds to go. Ertz’s wobbler was picked off by Jordan Sterns to end the game.
Jesse Ertz ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns, but he was just 12 of 18 for 87 yards through the air, as the Wildcats finished with 345 yards rushing. Duke Shelley returned an interception for another touchdown.
Washington had seven catches for 117 yards and two scores for the Cowboys.
Kansas State controlled the game early on, marching on back-to-back long touchdown drives to take a 13-0 lead. But the Cowboys answered with back-to-back touchdown passes from Rudolph, and that began an entertaining back-and-forth matchup of vastly differing styles.
The Wildcats stuck to the ground, bulldozing their way through a defense unable to stop them, while the Cowboys kept shredding through the air a defense that couldn’t keep pace.
Oklahoma State led 23-21 at halftime before an atrocious third quarter that included a muffed punt, a blocked punt and two crucial penalties allowed the Wildcats to seize a 30-21 advantage.
The teams kept trading blows all the way to the final second.
Oklahoma State: Despite throwing two picks, the first ending a streak of 163 attempts without one, Rudolph was calm when it mattered the most. He engineered two scoring drives down the stretch when Oklahoma State’s Big 12 title hopes hung in the balance.
Kansas State: It was another oh-so-close loss for the Wildcats, who dropped a similar nail-biter to West Virginia. Their failure to convert on third-and-inches in the fourth quarter, and then punting rather than going for it on fourth down, may have cost them the game.
Oklahoma State plays its home finale against Texas Tech on Saturday.
Kansas State has a week off before visiting No. 13 Baylor.