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West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys - The Mountaineers Look To Bounce Back

The loss of predicted All- American safety Karl Joseph and a lack of momentum from last weeks Sooner meltdown have many doubting West Virginia football. Oklahoma State on the other hand comes in red hot with a 2-0 start in Big 12 play. Can the Mountaineers bounce back with an upset win over a ranked opponent? Oklahoma State travels to Morgantown, West Virginia to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers this Saturday.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The West Virginia Mountaineers entered the October portion of their schedule with high hopes, an undefeated record, top 25 ranking, and a potential All-American safety. One game into the stretch the Mountaineer's have lost all three of those things.

There's a timeline to these events that explains the misfortune:

  1. Saturday, October 3rd: West Virginia takes it's first loss of the season at Oklahoma by way of a 44-24 final score.
  2. Sunday, October 4th: West Virginia is dropped from the AP and Coaches top 25.
  3. Wednesday October 7th: West Virginia loses senior bandit safety Karl Joseph to an ACL tear in a non-contact drill during practice.
The Mountaineer's can replace their ranking or improve beyond that. There is also still a small chance the playoffs are an achievable goal bearing other power five conference results and an outright dominance of the rest of the schedule. What is not replaceable is Karl Joseph. The senior from Orlando, Florida has started all 42 of the games he played in. This year Joseph led the NCAA in interceptions with 5 through only 4 games including a performance against Georgia Southern in which he picked off 3 passes alone. West Virginia will try to rally with redshirt junior safety Jarrod Harper.

Even through all of this Wendell Smallwood is still one of the most efficient running backs in the Big 12 and boasts 110.5 rushing yards a game. The offensive line is healthy and will look to help improve that number even more. In the passing game quarterback Skyler Howard looks to improve on a week in which he threw 3 interceptions while completing only 53 percent of his passes. The bright spot was his mobility shown on a 50 yard scamper and his continued connection with freshman Jovon Durante who also had a score.

On defense Jarrod Harper will get the start in place of Karl Joseph and a secondary that was picked apart last week will look to rebound. Missed keys and broken play's by the secondary cost the Mountaineer's TCU and maybe their season in 2014 a lot of the same happened against Oklahoma last week. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard was wide open on a 28 yard score as was Durron Neal for a 71 yard one. The Mountaineers currently without Joseph will need to be focused now more than ever.

West Virginia (3-1) (0-1 Big 12) has a lot of football left on their schedule starting with 20th ranked Oklahoma State(5-0) (2-0 Big 12) in Morgantown.

Oklahoma State is 5-0 with wins over two Big 12 wins already coming over foes Texas and Kansas State. They are led by sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph who is completing 8.9 percent more of his passes than last year. The quarterback The quarterback is on track for a 4,000 passing yard season and although he has thrown 4 interceptions he has 9 touchdown passes.

He has two favorite targets at receiver in the 5'8" David Glidden and the 6'4" Marcell Ateman. The pair have combined for 711 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Ateman will provide a similar length to that of West Virginia's star cornerback Daryl Worley.

The Oklahoma State defense currently leads the nation in sacks and only has allowed  an average of 12 points in second half football this year. The worst nightmare for a quarterback can be Jimmy Bean and Emmanuel Ogbah. The two defensive end's lead the team in sacks with Ogbah having 6.5 and Bean having 4. The Cowboys do have a huge loss to assess themselves though with middle linebacker Ryan Simmons who was a pre-season All-Big 12 selection. He was lost to a knee injury against Kansas State.

In the secondary the Cowboys return plenty of experience including cornerbacks Ashton Lampkin and Kevin Peterson. The two will look to press, bump and run with West Virginia's Shelton Gibson and Jovon Durante. Speed could be met by physicality come Saturday.

This could turn into a shootout or could be a quiet defensive evening in West Virginia. Cowboy's head coach Mike Gundy is no stranger to Dana Holgorsen 's air rad and even beyond that the two coached together in Holgorsen's days under Gundy as an offensive coordinator for Oklahoma State. The two have very battle tested and at times proven defenses. This is a game that could be called either way because of its unpredictability. The Cowboy's always end up in a trap game during what could be a perfect season. West Virginia is not a team who rebounds well after big time losses.  The Mountaineer's Wendell Smallwood could have a great day with the right amount of carries. Mason Rudolph could continue on his path to a quality season.

The difference maker will be the pass rush. Guys like defensive ends Jimmy Bean and Emmanuel Ogbah will make West Virginia's Howard nervous all night in the pocket which could lead to bad pass decision making into a very good OSU secondary. We saw it at Oklahoma and we could see it here.

OSU 38 WVU 20

Kick off is at Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.