The Mountaineers are home for Military Appreciation Weekend, wearing some beautiful white / blue / white uniforms with a state American Flag decal and a chance to get above .500 for the first time since they beat Virginia Tech back in September. The Mountaineers are facing an Oklahoma State team that is 7-1 and ranked #11 in the country. The Mountaineers also have a 6 game losing stream to the Cowboys dating all the way back to 2015. The Cowboys have been a thorn in the Mountaineers side in those games. The Cowboys took the Mountaineers to overtime in 2015, prevailing 33-26. In 2016, they appeared to just be too much for the #10 ranked Mountaineers, embarrassing them 37-20. 2017, in the rain, Mason Rudolph shined while Will Grier played one of his worst games, throwing four interceptions as the Cowboys dropped 50. 2018, the Mountaineers owned a 31-14 lead at halftime and lost 45-41. 2019, the Cowboys trailed 13-10 in the fourth quarter before 10 straight points won the game. Last year, the Mountaineers had a chance to stop the Cowboys and couldn’t as they pulled away 27-13.
Contain Jaylen Warren
Cowboys running back Jaylen Warren currently sits at 850 yards on the year, averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 175 attempts. The senior running back, who transferred to the Cowboys from Utah State, had a stretch from mid-September through mid-October where he had four straight 120+ yard games including 218 against Boise State and 193 against Texas. Even in the loss to Iowa State, Warren rushed 18 times for 76 yards - a 4.2 yard per carry average. Had head coach Mike Gundy not gotten desperate at the end of the game, he likely could have gotten the team into field goal position to tie. Oklahoma State missed two field goals in that game and those two scores ended up being the difference in the game. Warren has been a workhorse for the Cowboys and his favorite place to run the ball is behind former Mountaineer lineman Josh Sills at left guard.
Warren is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, having already logged 13 receptions for 148 yards. Against Kansas State he caught 4 passes for 81 yards. Warren has been even better away from Stillwater. On 83 carries, he has totaled 487 yards on the ground, a 5.9 YPC average. For West Virginia containing the 215 pound back will be a challenge since the Cowboys love to run him on first down where he averages 5.2 yards per carry. In the first half of games, he averages 5.9 yards per carry.
TL;DR - Jaylen Warren is good and must be stopped.
Keep Jarret Doege Upright
The past two games, the Mountaineers offensive line has been rejuvenated, keeping Doege upright and protected. In 74 pass attempts in the past two weeks, Doege has only been sacked once and has been pressured only a handful of times. That worked well against Iowa State especially, since the Cyclones dropped 8 men constantly and did not pressure the Mountaineers. The past two games the Mountaineer signal caller has a QBR (quarterback rating) of 75.8 and 83.4 (the stat is normalized to 100 - 100 is a perfect game). Giving any quarterback a clean pocket and not forcing him off his spot is bad news for a defense. Doege has now proven that he is dangerous and can make throws on all levels of the defense. Where Iowa State did not blitz or bring pressure a lot, Oklahoma State will attack. They believe in pressure and are going to make Doege uncomfortable. If the offensive line and running backs are capable of picking up the blitz and giving Doege time, QB1 will find the open receiver.
The Cowboys defense is aggressive and it pressures players into mistakes. The Cowboys have defended 17 passes and turned those into 7 interceptions. They have also caused 4 fumbles and recovered all four. Turnovers matter in football, especially when you short circuit drives and give your offense another chance at points. Last weekend, whether or not it was actually a fumble, the Mountaineers stole a possession, kept the Cyclones from scoring and stole time from the clock. The Mountaineers will need to avoid the costly turnovers and will do well if they can steal a possession or two from the Cowboys.