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Mountaineers Look to Take Advantage of Struggling Cowboys in Season Finale



Heading into the final game of the 2022 season, there isn’t much left for West Virginia to be excited about.

Last week’s loss to Kansas State made the Mountaineers ineligible for a bowl game for the second time in head coach Neal Brown’s four-year tenure, and only the fourth overall since 2000.

The Mountaineers now aim to end the year on a high note, and Brown said during Tuesday’s news conference that he has emphasized finishing to his players. West Virginia may be in a better position to earn a victory playing Oklahoma State, a team that could be considered moving on the down slope.

“It’s all (about) how you look at it,” Brown said of the Mountaineers’ motivation for the game. “I always get guys to think back to when you’re a kid; somebody tells you you’re gonna play in front of 55, 60 thousand people, play on ESPN 2, and play Power 5 football at the highest level. You’d be pretty excited. So, what’s changed? It’s what you make out of it. It’s an opportunity.”

Watch: WVU HC Neal Brown on Plan for Season Finale, Thoughts on NIL, Transfer Portal

Brown referenced his 2019 squad, who entered its 12th game in the same position as this year’s team. West Virginia, also entering the final regular season game at 4-7, defeated TCU 20-17 on the road.

The Mountaineers will be heading to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for an 11 a.m. local time kickoff, their first of the kind this season, to take on the No. 24 ranked Cowboys.

Oklahoma State was ranked as high as No. 7 following a 5-0 start, but have lost four of their last six games to enter Saturday’s contest at 7-4. The Cowboys, however, have won all six home game this season and haven’t lost in Stillwater since 2020.

Mountaineers Open as Big 9-Point Underdog in Season Finale at Oklahoma State

“Oklahoma State is experiencing some adversity,” Brown said. “They’ve had a lot of injuries. They had injuries up front on both sides of the ball. There’s been some protection issues as well (on their punt team).”

Issues on the punt team has led to one of the Cowboys’ key injuries.

Four-year starting punter Tom Hutton, a native of Australia, was injured in the Cowboys’ loss to Kansas State and announced his retirement from football on social media just three days later.

Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders, another four-year starter, was removed in the same matchup due to an upper-body injury, and was later revealed by head coach Mike Gundy that Sanders had been playing through a shoulder issue over the previous three games.

This hasn’t stopped Sanders from compiling 2,642 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, while being the Cowboys’ second-leading rusher with 391 yards.

But, Oklahoma State’s offense overall has been taking a plunge. Prior to the Cowboys’ 48-0 loss to Kansas State, they were ranked 7th in the FBS with 41.7 points per game. Over the last four games, including against the Wildcats, the Cowboys have averaged 12.3 per contest.

Oklahoma State confirmed that Sanders will be participating in Saturday’s game.

“They’re not as explosive as they have been,” West Virginia defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley said. “They’re not using the tight ends the same way. Most statistics go back to Spencer; most of the pass and rush yards come through him.”

According to Brown, West Virginia will be traveling with more players in an attempt to get younger members of the roster time on the field, including ones the team plans to redshirt.

WVU QB Garrett Greene Named Starter to Close Season Against Oklahoma State

Brown also said Garrett Greene will be starting his second straight game at quarterback. Greene threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns against Kansas State last week, while adding a 13-yard rushing touchdown.

“This is our last game. We don’t like it, but it is what it is,” Brown said. “I think this week is about gratitude and a lot of different things. We’re thankful for the opportunity to finish the season on a high note. We’ll make it a good week.”

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