The faint hope of the Cowboys (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) is that they still have a chance to make the Big 12 Championship Game, but to do that they'd need Oklahoma to lose to TCU and then beat the Sooners. The faint hope of the Mountaineers (4-6, 2-5) is making it to six wins and playing in a bowl game, but to do that they'll have to beat OSU here and then win at TCU.
The Orange and Black are riding a three-game win streak and coming off a 31-13 victory over Kansas last week. The Mountaineers snapped a five-game losing streak with a huge win at Kansas State, 24-20. The 'Neers won't be lack for motivation, because if they win their last two games they'll be bowl eligible in what was long viewed as a rebuilding season anyway.
Oklahoma State at West Virginia
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 23 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -7
When Oklahoma State Has the Ball
Yards after contact. Cowboy running back Chuba Hubbard is the nation's leading rusher at 173 yards per game. Though he is just 205 pounds, he never stops churning his legs and notoriously makes a ton of yardage after contact. Hubbard has four 200-yard games this season and if the Mountaineers are not disciplined and play fundamental football (tuck the tail, sky the eyes, wrap him up), Hubbard will have another field day. Keep an eye on his yards after first contact.
Stay in the pocket. Against Kansas, QB Spencer Sanders seemed to do a better job of staying in the pocket a beat or two longer and finding his receivers. Now Sanders is done for the season after undergoing thumb surgery so that means backup Dru Brown will need to show some patience on his dropbacks. With Tylan Wallace lost to injury, the rest of the Pokes' receiving corps needed to step up and that they did. Dillon Stoner has certainly been "the guy" for this offense, including hauling in two touchdowns vs. TCU and two more last week against the Jayhawks.
Don't be Stills. West Virginia has a tough defensive line that can cause a lot of havoc, particularly the Stills brothers, Darius and Donte. The two have combined for 13 sacks on the season. That is half of the 26 the Mountaineers have accumulated this season. The brother act also helped clog the run lanes against K-State, who managed just 122 yards on 38 carries. Obviously, stopping Hubbard this week will be a different animal.
When West Virginia Has the Ball
The new QB. Jarret Doege, a Bowling Green transfer, got the call at QB over Austin Kendall against Kansas State last week. Head coach Neal Brown explained he was just looking for a spark so he made the change. Man, did it work or what? Doege went 20-of-30 for 234 yards and three TDs. Most importantly, he had no turnovers and handled the environment well. Next up is home debut against Oklahoma State's passing defense, which ranks eighth in the Big 12 at 273.1 yards per game allowed.
Three words: River. Boat. Gambler. What the hell, put the pedal to the metal and take some chances. Brown admitted he kept things more vanilla in the K-State game. But now? Throw in a gadget play every drive. Fake a field goal… or two. Go for it on 4th-and-5 from midfield. Catch the Cowboys napping here and there. Have fun with it West Virginia. No reason to play it close to the vest.
Shut down the run, blitz Doege silly. The game plan for Oklahoma State's defense is to force the 'Neers to throw and throw and throw. Making them one-dimensional shouldn't be too tough since they are 128th in the nation running the ball, averaging a flimsy 75 yards per game on the ground. If that continues the Pokes will be able to pin their ears back and go pell-mell after Doege to harass, harangue and hurry him into bad throws.
The Mountaineers have renewed energy thanks to a shot of adrenaline over a new quarterback and restored hopes at getting to six wins. The Cowboys look like they're playing more up to their potential after a near-perfect game against Kansas, until giving up some points in garbage time.
In a game like this, you have to like Oklahoma State's offensive balance, their growth as a unit and head coach Mike Gundy's brilliant 1980s-era mullet hairstyle. In fact, I'm going to go with OSU here. Mainly because the mullet is so freakin' glorious.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 35, West Virginia 24
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.