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2021 Opponent Preview: A preseason look at the Oklahoma Sooners

Can the Mountaineers finally pick up a win against the soon-to-be SEC-bound Sooners?

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Spring Game Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Series Record: 2-10. You guys know the story here – we have yet to beat the Sooners since joining the Big 12.

Last Meeting: 14-52. Last year’s contest was one of our two games that got cancelled due to Covid, but Oklahoma dusted us up pretty good in Norman the year before.

Opponent Record 2020: 9-2. Covid weirdness hit the Sooners harder than most, leading to a 1-2 start to their 2020 campaign. However, once they found their footing they never looked back, winning their next eight games by an average score of 45-20 while avenging their earlier loss to Iowa State and capping the season with an impressive 55-20 win over Florida.

2021 Outlook

Oklahoma enters the season as the prohibitive conference favorite and has a Heisman contender at quarterback for what feels like the 100th straight season. That QB is Spencer Rattler, who will look to build on an outstanding freshman campaign that saw him complete 68% of his passes for 3031 yards and 28 touchdowns. It feels like hyperbole to compare him to Pat Mahomes, but that’s the type of wizardry that he brings as a passer and playmaker.

The skill group around Rattler is among the best in the country. At running back Kennedy Brooks figures to reclaim his lion’s share of the carries after sitting 2020 out due to covid concerns, but Marcus Major, Seth McGowan, and TJ Pledger are also back after combining for 1008 yards and 11 touchdowns behind Rhamondre Stevenson and proving themselves worthy of touches in Brooks’ absence.

The receiving group of Mims, Wease, and tight end Austin Stogner is absolutely outrageous and figures to be even better this year if Jadon Haselwood takes a step towards reaching his potential after missing most of last year with a torn ACL.

The Sooners have to replace All-American Creed Humphrey up front, but on paper this is a group that has an outside shot of averaging 50 if everything goes right.

Defensively their strength is definitely up front, with all four of Nik Bonitto, Isaiah Thomas, Perion Winfrey, and Jalen Redmond in the conversation for best in conference at their respective positions. That group generated one of the most productive pass rushes in the country last year and figures to be just as good this year despite losing Ronnie Perkins to the NFL.

Linebacker play should be expected to take at least a small step forward this year with both Brian Asamoah and DeShaun White returning, but the secondary will be hard-pressed to follow suit with the departure of longtime stalwarts Tre Norwood and Tre Brown. Oklahoma will need big years from Woodi Washington and DJ Graham, who both played as freshmen last year, lest those holes out wide sink their national championship aspirations.

Game Outlook

If it’s not clear from these last several paragraphs of verbal fellatio, Oklahoma is going to be really good this year (again). A 3-0 start and an 8pm kickoff would make me feel better about proceedings, but even so, slowing down that offense and those pass rushers for 4 quarters is a tall task. However, if we’re able to give [QB1] time to throw, I do think our receivers are capable of winning their matchups with those newcomers on the outside. Who knows… maybe we hit a few big plays down the field, open things up a bit for Leddie and Co, and keep it close into the 4th quarter. At that point anything can happen, right? All I know is I’d love to get these guys once before they jet to the SEC, and there’s no better time or place than a night game at Mountaineer Field.