The Sooners have found ways to pull out wins in their four meetings with WVU as conference mates. They’ve done it with defense. They’ve done it chucking the ball all over the lot. They’ve done it with a punishing ground game.
This year, OU is relying on a conglomeration of dangerous offensive weapons. The ‘Eers might have the Big 12 D best suited to slow them.
Sounds like a fun night is shaping up in Motown.
Oklahoma at West Virginia
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Oklahoma -3
Specifically, the Mountaineers have to be feeling it. An 8-1 record left them at No. 14 in the latest edition of the College Football Playoff rankings. Among the teams ahead of WVU: Oklahoma at 8-2.
WVU has more than pride to play for. Dana Holgorsen’s team ultimately might have the best chance to make the playoff of any team in the Big 12. Winning out should put the Mountaineers squarely in the final four mix.
2. How OU’s Offensive Line Handles WVU’s Front Six
West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson employs a unique 3-3-5 scheme that attacks gaps and tries to confuse opposing offenses with deceptive blitzes. After a strong stretch in October, Oklahoma’s offensive line appears to have taken a step or so back in the last couple weeks. The Sooners need their big uglies to play their best game of the year this weekend and keep the Mountaineers from causing havoc in the OU backfield.
3. Which Skyler Howard Shows Up?
By now, Holgo presumably knows that WVU has to live with what his starting quarterback does best. Howard isn’t the most accurate passer, but he generally puts the ball in an area where his underrated receivers can get to it. He also runs well enough to keep opposing defenses honest with the coverages and assignments.
Howard is prone to stinkers. He can’t pull that against the Sooners and expect to win.
Weather actually could play a big role in this game. The Saturday forecast for Morgantown calls for cold temperatures and the possibility of precipitation in the afternoon and evening. That might play into the hands of OU’s superior running game.
Howard will have an even bigger impact than the weather on this contest. WVU’s QB misfired on numerous throws in his team’s only loss to Oklahoma State. He also tossed two interceptions to the Cowboys. In a near loss to Texas last week, he threw three picks. Spreading the ball around that way to OU defenders, rather than Howard’s own teammates, will kill any hope of a WVU win.
Count on Howard and the rest of the Mountaineers to give a game effort, though. The Sooners probably enjoy just enough of an edge on offense to make the plays necessary to stave off WVU, but the ‘Eers are more than capable of winning this game - on the way to putting the College Football Playoff selection committee in a bind in a couple of weeks.
Prediction: Oklahoma 28, West Virginia 27
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.