STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy deflected credit when he reached a career milestone.
Spencer Sanders passed for a career-high 406 yards and accounted for six touchdowns and No. 12 Oklahoma State beat Central Michigan 58-44 on Thursday night to give Gundy his 150th coaching victory.
Gundy improved to 150-69 in his 18th season coaching his alma mater.
“Cool deal,” he said. “Like I told the team, it takes a lot of really, really quality people and good young men for a guy to stay in one place long enough to win 150 games. I’m just lucky enough to be along for the ride.”
Sanders matched a career high with four touchdown passes and set a career mark with two rushing scores in the opener for both teams.
“Knock on wood, he’s really good,” Gundy said. “He understands our concepts. He understands second nature where to go with the ball. And it’s a big advantage for us.”
Braydon Johnson had career highs of six catches for 133 yards and Brennan Presley added five catches for 83 yards.
Daniel Richardson passed for a career-high 424 yards and threw four touchdown passes for Central Michigan. Lew Nichols III, the nation’s leading rusher last year, ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.
Sanders passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and ran for two more scores to help the Cowboys take a 44-15 lead.
The Cowboys led 51-15 less than a minute into the third quarter before Central Michigan climbed back into the game. Jalen McGaughy‘s 54-yard touchdown pass from Richardson cut it to 58-44 with 3:15 remaining. McGaughy had six catches for 126 yards and two scores.
“As I said from the beginning, I really like our football team,” Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain said. “We’re going to win a lot of games. And those kids are going to learn from this video and we’re going to get a little bit better.”
Central Michigan outscored Oklahoma State 29-14 in the second half and outgained the Cowboys 281 yards to 138 after the break.
“It’s credit to those kids,” McElwain said. “Since we’ve been here and started to establish the program, there’s a certain mentality it takes to be a Chippewa. And these guys have started to understand a little bit what that is.”
Central Michigan: The Chippewas came in with high hopes after going 9-4 last season and beating Washington State in the Sun Bowl. But Sanders was too much for them early, and they couldn’t get their running game going well enough to control the clock and slow his rhythm.
Oklahoma State: The defense carried much of the load last season, but the offense put up 531 total yards on Thursday, mostly in the first half. The running game still could use some work, though. The Cowboys had just 45 yards on 20 carries in the second half and struggled to put the game away.
“We were very effective playing fast,” Gundy said. “And one thing that works against us a little bit is once you get ahead … obviously, you don’t want to play fast. So then you slow down, and we’re probably not as good at that as we are playing fast. But I was pleased with our ability to play fast and make plays in space.”
Oklahoma State could get penalized for being sluggish in the second half, depending on what else happens in the upcoming days.
Redshirt freshman Gunnar Gundy, Mike Gundy’s son, got action in the opener for the Cowboys. He did not attempt a pass, but he carried once for five yards.
The younger Gundy, a walk-on, has risen to No. 2 on the depth chart.
“This is a big deal … Everybody wants to see their kids do good and get out there,” coach Gundy said. “I was proud of him.”
Nichols rushed for 1,848 yards last season and ran for at least 100 yards his final eight games. His streak ended as he averaged just 2.8 yards per carry on Thursday.
McElwain joking about Bullet, the horse that runs onto the field after Oklahoma State’s touchdowns: “When they scored 30 in a row, I was probably more concerned with that damn horse cramping up that kept running around the end zone there.”
Central Michigan: Hosts South Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 10.
Oklahoma State: Hosts Arizona State on Saturday, Sept. 10.