Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is all-in on running back Chuba Hubbard and feels the Canadian Cowboy deserves to be a bigger part of the Heisman Trophy discussion.
Hubbard — the nation’s leading rusher — and the No. 21 Cowboys (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) will play at West Virginia on Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.
With eight consecutive 100-yard games — tops in the nation — Hubbard outdistances the game’s top rushers by a wide margin.
His 1,726 rushing yards and average of 172.6 yards per game easily beat out No. 2 rusher Jonathan Taylor, who has averaged 146.3 yards in 10 games for Wisconsin.
Hubbard, a track star, has shouldered more of the load on offense after game-breaking wide receiver Tylan Wallace tore his ACL in practice on Oct. 30.
Hubbard, a native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, leads the nation with 17 rushes of 20 yards or more — and that includes a national-best five runs of 60-plus yards.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, who played quarterback at OSU with Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas in his backfield, said Hubbard should be in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation next month.
“How many guys will rush for 1,900 yards in a Power 5 conference school?” Gundy said. “At some point you have to look and say, ‘OK, is this a quarterback award or do running backs and other positions get involved?’
“He deserves to be there.”
Stopping Hubbard will be foremost on the minds of everyone wearing blue and gold on the home sideline Saturday.
West Virginia is tied for 74th in rushing defense, allowing 167.1 yards per game and 3.88 yards per carry. Opponents have rushed for 19 touchdowns against the Mountaineers, who rank 86th in total defense, yielding 421.0 yards per contest.
But the Mountaineers (4-6, 2-5) have produced good results in two of their last three games — a tight 17-14 loss at then-No. 12 Baylor on Oct. 31 and a 24-20 upset at No. 24 Kansas State last Saturday.
The Mountaineers’ defense produced eight sacks of Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer and made multiple defensive stops in a valiant effort, but the Bears won a game by scoring less than 20 points for the first time since 2006 — kicking a field goal then blocking West Virginia’s late try.
In last week’s upset at Kansas State, Mountaineers coach Neal Brown sought a spark by turning to backup quarterback Jarret Doege for his first start at the school in place of Austin Kendall.
The Bowling Green transfer tossed three scores, and cornerback Hakeem Bailey intercepted a Wildcats’ pass in the end zone in the closing seconds to break West Virginia’s five-game losing streak.
Doege was selected the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday and will make his second straight start Saturday.
The Mountaineers must defeat the Cowboys in their home finale, then win at TCU on Nov. 29 to become bowl eligible at 6-6.
The first order of business is obvious.
“It all starts offensively with Chuba Hubbard,” Brown said. “I saw where Coach Gundy said he should be in the Heisman (race) and go to New York. I see no reason why not.
“He’s the complete package. He runs for power and speed. He just wears you out.”
–Field Level Media