STILLWATER — With Barry Sanders in attendance, the 15th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys kicked off Saturday’s blowout in the most fitting of ways — a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Justin Gilbert on the opening kick.
It was a nice nod to the Heisman Trophy winner, who returned the season opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in 1988. For Gilbert it was his sixth career kickoff return for a touchdown — which leads all active FBS players and is one shy of the FBS career record.
“There’s no better way to start a game, especially with Barry Sanders in the building. It was good,” Gilbert said.
And with Gilbert’s return, the rout was on for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State rolled past Kansas, 42-6, to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in Big 12 Conference play.
OSU got a second spark not shortly after with sophomore cornerback Kevin Peterson getting his first interception as a Cowboy.
Peterson came up with Oklahoma State’s lone takeaway in the contest, intercepting KU quarterback Jake Heaps and returning it 38 yards. The field position set up by Peterson, who missed last week’s game with an injury, gave OSU a short field early in the first quarter and led to the offense’s first score seven plays later — a 3-yard touchdown run by Desmond Roland.
After that, Oklahoma State turned it over to the offense to control the pace the rest of the way.
However, Kansas made it difficult for the Cowboys to utilize the running game — something OSU had seen vast improvement in over the past few games. The Jayhawks loaded the box and dared the Cowboys to go to the air.
The Cowboy offense played without its top target in the passing game for a large portion of the game. Wide receiver Josh Stewart was injured early in the contest after fielding a punt and was taken to the locker room.