Les Miles coached his last home game for Oklahoma State 15 years ago, and sometimes it seems hard to remember his presence with the Cowboys.
Miles left for Louisiana State and went on to bigger things, coaching the Tigers to a national championship. Now, he’s back in the Big 12, attempting to turn around Kansas (3-6, 1-5 Big 12), which visits No. 22 Oklahoma State (6-3, 3-3) on Saturday at Stillwater, Okla.
“It was a wonderful time for the Miles family and for us to be there. Very significant victories. It was great,” said Miles, who coached the Cowboys from 2001-04.
The reunion could feel somewhat odd for Miles, beginning with the ornate makeover of a stadium renamed for T. Boone Pickens, the oil tycoon whose $165 million donation helped catapult Oklahoma State to national prominence in football.
Mike Gundy was promoted to take over for Miles and became the Cowboys’ all-time winningest coach. When Miles showed up at the Big 12 meetings in May, Gundy (127-62 in his 15th season) called it “a bit unusual,” but welcomed his former boss.
“He and I butted heads a lot, but in the end we agreed and ended up on the same page,'” Gundy said. “We supported each other, and we were good at moving the football together. We had a good relationship.”
Miles can be credited for providing a significant push forward during his four seasons at Oklahoma State, leading the Cowboys to three straight bowls. This season, Oklahoma State already is eligible to participate in a 14th consecutive bowl under Gundy.
Each team is coming off bye weeks.
Oklahoma State sophomore Chuba Hubbard leads the nation with 1,604 rushing yards and a 178.2-yard average. He is coming off a 223-yard performance against TCU, the first time an opposing rusher gouged one of Gary Patterson’s defensive units for 200 yards.
“With Chuba, all you have to do is get in the way of people and he’ll just run right around them,'” said guard Ry Schneider, aware that his teammate has seven carries for 50-plus yards.
Kansas counters with shifty Pooka Williams. The sophomore has 765 rushing yards in eight games and needs 110 yards to reach the 2,000-yard mark as a sophomore, a feat also accomplished at Kansas by Gale Sayers.
The Jayhawks are coming off a 38-10 home defeat to Kansas State in which they scored their only touchdown inside the final minute. On the road, Kansas is averaging 431 yards in offense but faces an Oklahoma State program that has won nine straight in the series.
A slim chance exists for bowl eligibility, though the Jayhawks must win out over their final three games.
The Cowboys used the off week to adjust even more to the loss of standout receiver Tylan Wallace (knee).
“I am incredibly grateful that I was able to step up and make plays for my team,'” said junior receiver Dillon Stoner, who had two touchdown receptions against TCU. “I wish (Wallace) was out there doing it, but I know he’s going to recover.'”
–Field Level Media