Top-ranked Oklahoma State will try to hold off a trio of Big Ten squads as the inaugural Mat Mayhem went from 24 teams down to just four during the weekend.

The Cowboys will host Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois Feb. 19 in a winner-take-all day of competition in the first NWCA Mat Mayhem, the new and improved National Duals.

“I like it, it’s going to be a tough week,” said Oklahoma State head coach John Smith, whose squad improved to 14-0 with victories against Wyoming and Ohio State on Sunday. “It’s definitely different than what we usually have this time of year, but let’s go wrestle. Just get tough.”

Ohio State is a prime example of what it’s like this time of year. The Buckeyes, with seven freshmen in the lineup, avenged an early season loss to Nebraska in Sunday’s Regional semifinal in Stillwater, Okla. However, in that team win, 184-pounder CJ Magrum suffered an injury. A round later against the host Cowboys, head coach Tom Ryan was forced to send out a backup 157-pounder against one of the nation’s top 174-pounders, unbeaten Chris Perry, who recorded an 11-1 major decision and highlighted a string of five consecutive wins for the hosts.

Champion: Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State def. Ohio State 25-6
Oklahoma State def. Wyoming 28-7
Ohio State def. Nebraska 21-18
Wyoming def. Chattanooga 38-6
Ohio State def. Boise State 26-9
Boise State def. Chattanooga 25-17

“Everybody is beat up this time of year,” Ryan said. “We tried to do some things to give ourselves a chance. We need some time to heal up.”

The Cowboys won 8 of 10 against the Buckeyes, including 2011 NCAA champion Jordan Oliver’s 7-3 decision of Logan Steiber at 133 pounds. The talented duo entered the bout with a combined 41-2 record.

“I focus for every match, for this match especially,” Oliver said. “My goal is to always go out and put points on the board. I know Steiber has a great offense. I have a great offense, so it came down to who wrestled their style better. He’s pretty good on the mat too, so I wanted to take control and get that opening takedown and work on some riding time so that wouldn’t be a factor later in the match.

“These are the most exciting matches for me. You wrestle every day to wrestle the best. The intensity and tempo of matches raises and I always live by ‘to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.’ ”

Champion: Minnesota
Minnesota def. Missouri 26-7
Minnesota def. Kent State 35-3
Missouri def. Michigan 21-12
Kent State def. Rutgers 19-13
Missouri def. Cal Poly 34-6
Cal Poly def. Rutgers 24-16

Ohio State trailed just 9-6 after Josh Demus’ victory at 157 but the host Cowboys reeled off five consecutive wins to pull away.

Minnesota opened Mat Mayhem on Saturday, rolling through two duals in Piscataway, N.J., to advance. The Gophers (12-3) hammered Kent State 35-3, before dispatching No. 13 Missouri 26-7 in the Regional final.

Zach Sanders beat Alan Waters 8-6 at 125 pounds and Dylan Ness edged Kyle Bradley 8-6 in overtime at 149. Those wins sandwiched around a pair of major decisions by Chris and Nick Dardanes to give Minnesota a quick 14-0 advantage. Cody Yohn (165), Logan Storley (174) and Kevin Steinhaus (184) put the Tigers away with decisions.

“It’s the first one there’s ever been, so why wouldn’t we be excited?” Gopher head coach J Robinson said of the new format. “If the people who are supposed to get in get in … then we get a chance to wrestle two of three people who beat us this year.”

The best dual of the regional round may have been Missouri and Michigan in the semifinals. Trailing 12-11 after 174 pounds, the Tigers won the final three bouts, including Brent Haynes’ major decision at 197 pounds to give the victors an 18-12 advantage entering heavyweight.

Champion: Iowa
Iowa def. Oregon State 22-14
Iowa def. Virginia Tech 31-3
Oregon State def. Iowa State 27-12
Virginia Tech def. Northern Iowa 20-17
Iowa State def. Wisconsin 36-3
Northern Iowa def. Wisconsin 30-15

In Ames, Iowa, on Sunday the Hawkeyes advanced with victories against Virginia Tech and Oregon State, beating the Beavers 22-14 in the final. Included in the Hawkeyes’ win was All-American Montell Marion’s overtime decision against Michael Mangrum at 141 pounds. Oregon State beat host Iowa State 27-12 to advance to Sunday’s final.

The always-entertaining 133-pound class continued to provide fireworks as Iowa’s Tony Ramos, the only wrestler to beat Oliver this season, beat Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter, who lost 13-3 to Northern Iowa’s Joe Colon a round earlier.

The only top seed to not advance was Cornell, which hosted six teams in Ithaca, N.Y., on Sunday. The Big Red fell to Illinois 19-16 in the final a round after the Illini edged Oklahoma 21-18.

“I don’t know how this event fits into the season yet,” Illinois head coach Jim Heffernan said. “The timing of it still concerns me, but I think the concept is very good. That’s my opinion. For us, it was a positive to not have to wrestle Big Ten teams again.

Champion: Illinois
Illinois def. Cornell 19-16
Cornell def. Purdue 29-6
Illinois def. Oklahoma 21-18
Purdue def. Central Michigan 27-9
Oklahoma def. American 35-12
American def. Central Michigan 25-16

“I’m hoping this event can grow into a huge deal.”

Illinois and OU each won five matches with Jesse Delgado’s pin of Jarrod Patterson at 125 and Jordan Blanton’s fall at 174 the difference. The Sooners had three major decisions in their five victories.

The final came down to 285 pounds where Mario Gonzalez beat Maciej Jochym 8-2. Cam Simaz’s pin at 197 tied the dual at 16 – Illinois was deducted a team point following the bout.

Cornell won its first National Duals title in 2011 but will not defend that championship.

“The timing probably isn’t the best, but it’s going to be fun,” Smith said. “You’ve got the four best dual teams in the country. Illinois is good, Minnesota is hot right now and Iowa, of course, has been a great program for a long time. We are excited to be able to host.”

Oklahoma State will meet Illinois in one semifinal with the Hawkeyes and Gophers meeting in the other. The Cowboys own wins against Iowa and Minnesota. The Hawkeyes own victories against Minnesota and Illinois, who dropped a match to the Gophers.

What’s in store? One flurry, one scramble, one mistake could determine the 2012 Mat Mayhem champion.