If you are going to win the Big 12, you are going to have to beat Oklahoma.
This may have been an idea that most agreed with or believed to be true. But after a dominating second half performance against West Virginia along the offensive and defensive lines, it's likely a fact now.
Trevor Knight wasn't perfect (16-of-29, 205 yards, 0 TD, INT), Keith Ford didn't play and Bob Stoops was just 6-7 in last 13 road night games.
So on a night where the Sooners had a lot working against them — not the least of which was a surging Mountaineers offense — the big uglies in the trenches took over in the second half and showed the Mountaineers what a complete team looks like.
The Sooners front seven got pressure throughout the second half, finishing with three turnovers, three sacks and countless knockdowns of WVU's Clint Trickett. Eric Striker (8 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack) and company did what you have to do against Dan Holgorsen's offense if you want to win — make it one dimensional. Oklahoma now leads the nation in interceptions (8) and is 16th in sacks (12.0).
Listen to the Week 4 recap podcast:
On offense, Knight turned to a true freshman to carry the load in an effort to slow things down, keep the ball away from Trickett and allow the offensive line to impose it's will. Samaje Perine was the Sooners' No. 3 tailback entering the season but the 240-pound running back was the star of the show on Saturday night, carrying 34 times for 242 yards and four touchdowns in the win. It was the first 200-yard night for a Sooners runner since Adrian Peterson did it in 2004.
In a hostile environment, it was the physical domination of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball that was most impressive for Oklahoma. Once the game settled down in the second half — the Sooners outscored the Mountaineers 21-3 in the second half until a late score — Stoops' squad turned the game into a slugfest brawl in the trenches.
Which is exactly where opposing coaches don't want to find themselves against the Sooners. Entering this game, West Virginia had a chance to make a big statement and announce to the Big 12 it was going to be in the title mix. That didn't happen.
What happened was Oklahoma put a firm stake in the ground atop the Big 12 standings at 1-0 and if your favorite Big 12 team wants to be mentioned in contention for a conference title, the odds are they will have to beat Oklahoma head-to-head.
Good luck, with that.
Hear my interview with Oklahoma's Trevor Knight last night after the game. He credits the O-Line and the running backs for the big win over West Virginia: