Blackmon, the nation's leader in receiving yards per game, total receiving yards and touchdown receptions, did not accompany the team to Stillwater after being suspended for one game by head coach Mike Gundy after his DUI arrest last Tuesday in Carrollton, Texas after attending the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game on Monday night.
Two other starting receivers – Tracy Moore, who was with Blackmon the night of his arrest and made the trip to Manhattan, Kan., but only played on special teams Saturday, and Hubert Anyiam, who remained in Stillwater with an injury – did not play on offense.
The Cowboys still managed 511 total yards of offense (just 20 yards below their season average) even without those three starting receivers. Quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with six different receivers on the day. Kendall Hunter ran for 143 yards on 28 carries to move past Barry Sanders and into a tie with David Thompson with 18 career 100-yard rushing games.
"Hopefully this proves to our football team that one player or no one coach is bigger than the team," Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said. "We had guys step up and make big plays today on offense and defense. I could go on and on about (the defense). The defense probably played as good of a game as we've played all year.
"Offensively, Bo Bowling continues to show signs of being a competitor and making plays at crucial times. Isaiah (Anderson) showed up and was able to make a catch on a deep throw, and Mike Harrison, obviously, was able to make a catch on a fade. Kendall gave us some really tough running.
"It's a really good win for our team. I'm glad they were able to come back from last week's loss. You always worry about your team from a public perception and a media perception. I'm proud of our team for coming up here and winning today," Gundy continued.
Weeden and the offense was frustrated throughout much of the first half as the first six Cowboy drives of the game ended in Kansas State territory but without any points on the scoreboard. Lost fumbles by Josh Cooper and Hunter stopped two of those drives on KSU's side of the field.
But Weeden and the Cowboys put it all together on the seventh – and last – drive of the first half. The Cowboy junior found Isaiah Anderson on a 40-yard pass to the Kansas State 16-yard line and three plays later he teamed up with Michael Harrison on a 15-yard fade route for the touchdown to tie the game 7-7 at halftime.
Oklahoma State then scored on its first two possessions of the second half – after Kansas State missed a 23-yard field goal attempt – to take a 17-7 lead.
Weeden was 6 for 7 for 63 yards in leading the Cowboys 80 yards in 11 plays on their first possession of the second half to go up 14-7. The OSU quarterback connected with Bo Bowling (7 yards), Anderson (10), Josh Cooper (11), Harrison (8), Joseph Randle (7) and Cooper (16-yard touchdown reception) to give the Cowboys a lead they would never relinquish.
After the Cowboy defense, which was outstanding in holding the Wildcats nearly 20 points below their season average of 33.9 points, forced a third-and-out, Weeden and the offense took over again. They drove from their own 18 to the Wildcat 17 before Dan Bailey kicked a 34-yard field goal with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter.
Bill Young's defense intercepted three Kansas State passes in the fourth quarter, including the first interception of safety Johnny Thomas's career in which he returned 25 yards to the end zone for a touchdown to give the Cowboys an insurmountable 24-7 lead with just 7:06 remaining to play.
Kansas State added a 1-yard touchdown by Daniel Thomas with less than five minutes to play but it was too little too late for the Wildcats.
Bo Bowling, the senior from Tonkawa, Okla., who had 12 catches for 98 yards through the first seven games of the season, came up big with the trio of Blackmon, Moore and Anyiam (combined for 83 catches and 1,395 yards and 17 touchdowns) not playing on offense. He caught a career-best eight passes for 92 yards.
"I came out ready to play today," said Bowling. "This team had to battle this week. We had to battle a lot throughout the week, the distractions (of Blackmon's suspension) but we battled back and took care of business. I'm proud of the team for that."
Gundy said the Cowboys best player, however, may have been Quinn Sharp, who entered the game averaging a nation-leading 48.2 yards per punt. He only averaged 41.3 yards on six punts against the Wildcats but had four of those six downed inside the KSU 9-yard line.
"The MVP of the game was Quinn," Gundy said. "He's the difference in the game. The percentage of scoring when you start a drive inside the 30, and you move it back inside the 20 it goes down, but if you move it inside the 10 it's like less than 10 percent chance on the national average a team is going to go over 90 yards and score. He was tremendous. He made all the difference."
Oklahoma State returns to Boone Pickens Stadium for next Saturday's game against Baylor. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.