Date: November 25th, 2017
Time: 3:30pm EST
Venue: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK
Streaming: WatchESPN or the WatchESPN app
Radio: Click HERE for a complete list of radio affiliates in West Virginia. If you live outside of the state, or don’t live close enough to a radio affiliate, you can listen to the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on TuneIn Radio.
Spread: Oklahoma -22.5 (Oddshark)
The Mountaineers are rocking blue-white-white this weekend. I'd prefer gold pants, but this is still a pretty clean look.
No word yet as of the writing of this article, but I'd bet on their standard home getup. They've favored the cream alternates against us in the past, but the originals seem more fitting for a home finale.
Know the Enemy
Series History: The Mountaineers trail in the all-time series 7-2 and unfortunately haven't beaten the Sooners since joining the Big 12.
Record: (10-1). The Sooners have been predictably excellent, with the lone blemish coming against Iowa State.
Head Coach: Lincoln Riley. The nation's youngest coach is undoubtedly a very courageous young man. Not only has he stepped into a situation tailor-made for success and not messed it up, he also had the testicular fortitude to stand up and bench Baker Mayfield for atleast one play this weekend. Forget the fact that they're 23-point favorites without BFG playing, this was a ballsy move. Jokes aside, Riley seems like he was the right pick for the job - he kept enough in place to make the transition go smoothly, but brought enough new stuff in to put his own stamp on the program. Also, he's recruiting the hell out of people.
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Stoops.
By the Numbers
No graphic this week on the road without my computer, and no need to mince words about Oklahoma - they've been the best offense in the country this season. First in yards per game, yards per play, and explosive play percentage. The other side of the ball has been somewhat less impressive, but with an offense like that it's rarely mattered. Dawgs have their work cut out.
When we have the ball
Players to watch: LB Emmanuel Beal, DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, S Steven Parker
The Sooners lost a few stalwarts on defense this year but have actually improved slightly overall, ranking fourth in the conference in both scoring and total defense. They're fairly susceptible to big plays, but it's unclear how much of an issue that'll be for them without Will. Okoronkwo is a terror up front while Beal leads the team in tackles from his linebacker spot. They have a couple solid defensive backs, as well, led by senior Steven Parker.
Key to the game: Take the shackles off Chugs
It's impossible to expect our offense to look the same without Will, but we can't let that competely change the way we attack teams. It didn't look like Chugs really settled down last week until we let him throw it around a little bit, and I think we have to carry that over to this week if we want to have any chance. If we're going to coddle him we might as well not show up. Our receivers should still be able to get open, and the backs should still be able to run it - if Chugs can hit a few big ones downfield then who knows.
When they have the ball
Players to watch: QB Baker Mayfield, RB Rodney Anderson, RB Trey Sermon, WR Marquise Brown, WR CeeDee Lamb, TE Mark Andrews
As mentioned above, Oklahoma's offense is the best in the country. The numbers are ridiculous - 44 points and 588 yards per game on 8.3 yards per play, while averaging an explosive play nearly once in every five snaps. Their two young backs have filled in admirably for the departed Mixon and Perine, and they have about eight guys who average better than a catch per game on the outside. The guy who makes them go though is obviously Mr. Mayfield.
The expectations for Baker's senior season were understandably through the roof, but he's managed meet and surpass all of them. He's leads the nation in completion percentage by more than a full point, he leads the nation in yards per attempt by more than a full yard, and is 13 points clear of second in cumulative QB rating. And somehow that doesn't even tell the full story, because the edge that he plays with sets the tone for their whole team like some kind of billionaire's version of Skyler Howard. He's a special player, and I'll be glad to see him gone.
Key to the game: Keep Mayfield in the pocket, bend but don't break
Hold on for dear life is probably not far from the truth, but that's not the kind of quality #analysis that you all have come to expect from me. So let's look at what's worked against them this year. Iowa State beat them and Kansas State played them really close by keeping everything in front of them, and I think that's our best chance, as well. Oklahoma's great but they're obviously not invincible, and I think if we can make them grind out drives and get lucky with a mistake or two we can keep it close.
The recipe is there for an all-time choke job if we were to pull this one off - Mayfield awaiting Heisman coronation, the team rolling towards the CFP, and us licking our wounds with an unproven backup after watching our QB and best player go down for the year. What a time to steal that first Big 12 W from them, right?
Unfortunately, it's hard to see it happening. They're just too good and still have too much to play for. Earlier this week a buddy predicted a close game for 3 quarters before we run out of gas and let them pull away late. That sounds about right, but I'd love for us to be proven wrong.
West Virginia 24 Oklahoma 41