There has been little talk about West Virginia around Norman, Oklahoma, this week. Instead, Baker Mayfield’s sideline antics have dominated the conversation.
WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen probably isn’t complaining. Star quarterback Will Grier will miss the contest with a gruesome finger injury, meaning that the Mountaineers’ best hope for a win involves a whole lot of sleepwalking Sooners. The more distractions for OU, the better for Holgo.
It would probably also help WVU’s cause if losing his captaincy and starting the game on the bench rattles Mayfield in his final home game. Don’t count on it.
West Virginia at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 3:45 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Oklahoma -22
Three Things to Watch
1. Desperate measures at QB for WVU
Chris Chugunov stepped in for Will Grier last week post-mangling. His stats weren’t horrible (14-of-26 pass attempts for 189 yards and one touchdown). At no point in the game, however, did he appear capable of bringing the Mountaineers back versus Texas.
Might head coach Dana Holgorsen do something unconventional to spark his team this weekend? Don’t be surprised if WVU comes out with a funky offensive game plan in light of Grier’s absence.
2. How long will Mayfield sit out?
Baker Mayfield lost his captaincy for the game and won’t get his customary start, either. Kyler Murray will lead the Sooners into battle in his first start at OU instead. Murray has thrown just 19 passes this year, primarily in mop-up duty for No. 6. The spotlight will be glaring on Saturday.
Head coach Lincoln Riley hasn’t revealed much yet about the length of Mayfield’s “suspension.” It’s entirely possible that the Sooner star might only miss the first play.
3. Looking ahead
Some teams in the Sooners’ position might find themselves looking past WVU. The Mountaineers were already decided underdogs to OU before they lost Grier. That raises the possibility of OU’s players showing up ill-prepared and unmotivated.
With a bid to the College Football Playoff still in the cards, Sooner fans should expect a focused effort from the team. Even so, a flat performance isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility.
In theory, West Virginia can do some of the things on offense that have given OU trouble all year. Namely, the Mountaineers have field-stretching receivers who can get behind the Sooners’ defensive backs and a running back in Justin Crawford to keep the D honest. Losing Will Grier makes those threats seem far less imposing, though.
WVU’s lackluster defense doesn’t help its chance of upsetting OU, either. Opponents have bullied the Mountaineers’ defensive front all season, gaining nearly five yards every time they run the ball. That puts OU’s Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon in line for big days on the ground.
How big the final margin gets in this game might have a lot to do with how much Lincoln Riley wants to show TCU in advance of the Horned Frogs’ almost certain rematch with OU in the Big 12 title game the following week.
Prediction: Oklahoma 42, West Virginia 17
— 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.