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Kickoff: 3:45 est
Weather: Mostly Sunny High of 64º
The Mountaineers roll into Norman, Oklahoma as a prohibitive underdog. Across the board, Oklahoma has the edge over West Virginia. Let’s take a look at the Sooners, then throw it all out, and have some fun.
This was supposed to be a match-up of two of the best quarterbacks in the country, but with the injury to West Virginia quarterback Will Grier’s finger last week which ended his season. That scenario is no longer in play. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield will not start the game, due to his sideline antics in Lawrence, Kansas last week, although it is unclear how long he will sit out.
Baker Mayfield has had a stellar season and it has propelled him as a Heisman frontrunner. Love him or hate him, and I’m going to assume Mountaineer fans hate him, his talent on the field is impressive. Mayfield leads the number one offense in the country (588.7 ypg), is second in the country in passing yards (3,816), a ridiculous 70.8% completion percentage, 39 total touchdowns while only throwing five interceptions.
The skill positions are young and before the season started, there was not a lot of experience coming back on the offensive side of the ball. Oklahoma is known for reloading on the recruiting trail, so the talent was there, it was just a matter of “could they all come together.” They have. Oklahoma has had several big games from a variety of players.
Running back Rodney Anderson has emerged as the go to guy in the backfield. He averages 6.0 yards a carry, has 749 yards on the year and 7 touchdowns. He also has 16 receptions out of the backfield this year for 283 yards, averaging 17.7 yards per reception, and 5 touchdowns.
Trey Sermon will share the duties with Anderson and add homerun hitter Abdul Adams in the mix ( and he as a 99-yard touchdown run this year).
Mayfield has plenty of weapons on the outside. There have been four different receivers that have caught a touchdown pass for 50 plus yards and two of them have gone for over 80 yards.
Wide receiver Marquise Brown (44 rec 830 yards 18.9 ypc 5 TD) is a dynamic receiver that not only has the big playmaking ability, but has been consistent in intermediate routes.
Tight end Mark Andrews is Bakers go to guy when they need a first down. With his 6’5” frame, he can get himself between the defender and the ball to keep the chains moving. He is key to the running game, getting to the outside linebacker to spring the running backs for a big play.
If there is a weakness on this Oklahoma team, it could be their defense. It’s a young defense that had to replace a lot of talent from last year, but linebacker Okoronkwo leads the Big XII in sacks (8), tackles for a loss (17) and second on the team in tackles (61).
The Sooners run a 4-2-5 defensive scheme, with their fast, athletic linebackers making plays from sideline to sideline. Linebacker Emmanuel Beal leads the team in tackles (70).
They have had to rely on pressure on the quarterback to help a weak secondary.
It’s all about the offense for Oklahoma, but the defense has made some crucial stops in timely situations to help them get to this point.
With Will Grier out and back-up quarterback Chris Chugunov making his first career start, it looks bleak for the Mountaineers and that may be an understatement. West Virginia didn’t have much of a chance to win this game with Will Grier, let alone without him.
Oklahoma is good, there is no debate there, but I’m not going to be like everyone else in the country and pick Oklahoma to win the game, that’s just too easy. Instead, I’m going to have some fun and layout a scenario in which I see the Mountaineers winning the game, and besides, West Virginia seems to shine its brightest when no one gives them a chance.
I do believe that head coach Dana Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital are going to open-up the play book and throw everything they got at the Sooners.
Iowa State went into Norman with their back up quarterback Kyle Kempt, after a home loss to Texas the week before.
West Virginia has had success running the ball against Oklahoma over the years. One of the best college performances in College Football history was when Tavon Austin was put into the backfield in 2012 and ran wild on the Sooners on “Tavon’s Night.”
Justin Crawford had 331 yards rushing against the Sooners last year and he will be in the backfield this Saturday again for the Mountaineers.
Baker Mayfield is not starting the game, whether it’s a series or two, no one really knows. The “suspension” is pointless. Just start the kid if you’re not going to have a firm suspension. A suspension where Mayfield has to sit out a whole quarter or for the first half. I see this playing in West Virginia’s favor.
With that said, West Virginia will start the game with the ball first and score a touchdown with a big dose of the running game. This will feed into the play action later in the game.
Oklahoma will have their first drive stall on Kyler Murray’s first series at quarterback.
The Mountaineer’s will take the ensuing possession and on the first play, Chuggs will hit Marcus Simms over the middle for a 77-yard play action touchdown pass. It is now 14-0 Mountaineers.
Lincoln Riley panics and puts Baker Mayfield back in the game. He is not as sharp because he is pressing to try and make up for time lost and turns the ball over on his first series. West Virginia can only muster up a field goal off the turnover. 17-0 Mountaineers.
With the early lead and West Virginia able to run clock with an affective running game, the Mountaineers are able to keep the ball in their hands for the majority of the game.
This is Oklahoma so by no means will this be a blowout.
Oklahoma does comeback and tie the game at 34 with just under two minutes remaining in the game, but Chuggs and the offense put a beautiful drive together to get inside the Oklahoma 30 with time running out. Mike Molina hits a 47-yard walk off field goal. West Virginia wins 37-34!
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