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2019 West Virginia Football Preview: Gettin’ To Know The Oklahoma Sooners

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The thorn in the side of Dana Holgorsen, can Neal Brown finally beat the Sooners?

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Spring Game Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

First Baker Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma where he walked-on and set the world on fire. Then came Kyler Murray, a transfer from Texas A&M who turned down a guaranteed first-round MLB contract to pursue college football and the glory of the quarterback. Now comes Jalen Hurts, who transfers from Alabama Crimson Tide and looks to be the missing piece for the Sooners in their quest to win a national title that has eluded them since 2000.

GET TO KNOW THE ENEMY

Where are they from?: Norman, OK

#BRAND Slogan: #BoomerSooner

Recommended Blog: Crimson and Cream Machine

Famous Alumni: WWE Announcer Jim Ross, actress Olivia Munn and a host of NFL players including Adrian Peterson

Conference: Big 12

THE HEAD COACH

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Lincoln Riley started his coaching career at Texas Tech, under Big 12 guru Mike Leach, where he coached with former WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen. Riley coached at East 0Carolina before becoming the offensive coordinator for the Sooners in 2015-16. At the start of the 2017 season, former head coach Bob Stoops announced his retirement to the shock of many in the college football world. Riley immediately took over and in his two seasons as head coach he has won 24 games, seen both of his starting quarterbacks named Heisman Trophy winners and #1 NFL Draft picks and played in the College Football Playoffs. In short, it has been almost the highest of highs.

SCOUTIN’ THE SOONERS

2018 Synopsis

Remember how good West Virginia was in the Big East. 10 wins was expected and still considered that a letdown. That’s Oklahoma. The conference runs through Norman and if you want a piece of the title, you are going to have to beat Oklahoma. It might just take you beating them twice. Given the fact that the Big 12 has been at worst the 3rd best Power 5 conference and if you told me you thought they were the 2nd or best in a given year, I could buy your arguments, that should tell you just how tough the Sooners are.

Last season, despite starting a new transfer quarterback who had never started in college, the Sooners went 12-1 in the regular season. Their only loss was a 48-45 game to rival Texas. The Sooners drew the #4 seed in the College Football Playoffs and played Alabama in the Orange Bowl. Alabama won the game 45-34 ending the Sooners’ season.

Who did they lose?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Kyler Murray and 7 other starting players on the offense. Murray is the biggest of the names, the quarterback who had never started before in college and was turning down a guaranteed MLB contract to play in college. The Sooners also lost 4 starting offensive linemen.

After Murray, the biggest name on offense is the loss of Hollywood Brown. Brown led the team in catches with 75. The defense on the otherhand doesn’t lose many players, but maybe that isn’t a good thing after they finished dead last (130th) in pass defense last season.

Who do they return?

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Texas vs Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of talented running backs for starters. Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks are most likely the most talented running back duo in the Big 12. Last year these two combined for over 2,000 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. Receiver CeeDee Lamb is also back and he has already convinced some people who is good enough to play in the league (NFL).

At quarterback, the Sooners will have Alabama Crimson Tide transfer Jalen Hurts. It is the fifth straight year that the Sooners have had a transfer QB start for the program.

On the defensive side, there are a lot of returning starts but given how bad the Oklahoma defense has been throughout the past few years, is mentioning any of the names really worth it? The big name on defense is Kenneth Murray, a tackling machine who doubled his 78 tackles from 2017 to 155 in 2018.

Why should West Virginia be worried?

The Mountaineers have never beaten Oklahoma as a member of the Big 12 and for a large portion of their time, Oklahoma has been at least three scores better. This season, after West Virginia lost a host of NFL talent, can head coach Neal Brown shock the world? I don’t think so.

Why should West Virginia not be worried?

Jalen Hurts is talented but he isn’t Kyler Murray or Baker Mayfield. He is experienced but experience doesn’t always mean talent. The Sooners also break in four new starters on the offensive line, which could affect the blocking scheme for Hurts.