The West Virginia Mountaineers will travel to Stillwater, OK on October 29 to take on Dana Holgorsen’s former school, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Holgorsen is 2-2 against his former team since taking over the reigns at WVU, with the last win coming in 2014 when the Mountaineers defeated Oklahoma State at Boone Pickens Stadium, 24-10.
In 2015, the Cowboys invaded Milan Puskar Stadium and escaped with a 33-26 overtime victory. The Mountaineers were down 17-2 at halftime, but Skyler Howard helped lead a comeback that tied the game at 26 with 2:44 left in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Cowboys were able to punch it in on their first possession of overtime while Howard’s fourth down pass from the 11-yd line fell incomplete to end it.
Tony Gibson’s defense held Mason Rudolph to 218 yards passing and forced him to throw three interceptions, but the Mountaineers turned the ball over four times, including three fumbles, to lose a heartbreaking game.
Game #7: Oklahoma State Cowboys:
The Cowboys started a surprising 10-0 in 2015 and looked to be destined for the College Football Playoff until consecutive home losses to Baylor and Oklahoma to finish the season. Mike Gundy’s team ended up being selected to the Allstate Sugar Bowl where they got destroyed by Ole Miss, 48-20.
Oklahoma State returns a number of starters on offense and defense, but the losses of Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean on defense could be pretty significant for a defense that struggled down the stretch.
Cowboys’ Offense Should Be Special
Rudolph returns in 2016, along with top receiver James Washington, leading running back Chris Carson and the entire offensive line. The Cowboys also added graduate transfer Barry Sanders Jr. from Stanford and it’ll be interesting to see if he beats out Carson for the starting running back job in camp.
Oklahoma State’s offense possesses size, speed, athleticism and one of the best quarterbacks in the entire country. WVU’s defense will have a major task in slowing the Cowboys’ offense, especially on the road.
Oklahoma State Defense Is Pretty Average
With Ogbah and Bean gone, the Cowboys will need someone to step up along the defensive line. If Oklahoma State can’t get pressure on the quarterback, it could be a long year. As of now, the onus will fall on sophomores Jarrell Owens and Jordan Brailford who are listed as the starters at defensive end on the Cowboys’ most recent depth chart.
The strength of the Oklahoma State defense are the linebackers and safeties. Chad Whitener, DeVante Averette and Jordan Burton all return at linebacker which should help the Cowboys’ run defense improve. At safety, Jordan Sterns and Tre Flowers combine to create the best safety tandem in the Big 12, but there are a number of concerns because of inexperience at corner.
Prediction: WVU Suffers First Loss
As a reader pointed out yesterday, I have the Mountaineers starting 6-0 on my prediction articles. I did make sure to point out that the games against BYU, Texas Tech and TCU will be difficult and could go either way, but that I believed the Mountaineers would find a way to be victorious.
As for the game against Oklahoma State, WVU will almost assuredly fall. The Cowboys should be one of the top teams in the Big 12 this season with so much talent returning and the Mountaineers don’t tend to play well on the road in the Big 12. Expect Oklahoma State to come out on top by a decent margin, 44-27.