Are we still trusting it, gang? To be very clear and up front - I am. The result was obviously very disappointing and painful, but we couldn't have played much worse, we took their absolute best shot, and it still took a series of fluke plays for us to lose. It doesn't erase the blemish in the loss column, but there's something about the way our guys dug themselves out of that two-score hole and retook the lead that makes me think the wound won't fester.
Date: October 21st, 2023
Kickoff: 3:30PM EST
Where: Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium
Streaming: Only available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+
Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Radio Affiliates) | WVU Gameday App (Apple | Android)
Radio Announcers: Tony Caridi (PBP), Dwight Wallace (analyst), and Jed Drenning (sideline)
Reminder: It is against site policy to post links to illegal streams in the comments.
Spread: West Virginia -3
ML: WVU -164
Props: I haven't seen any props on FanDuel yet, but I'm definitely taking a good hard look at Greene's passing and rushing numbers. The cat's outta the bag there and I don't think it's going back in - kid is on his way to becoming one of the premier playmakers in the B12.
Rainy - high 55/44 low - Wind 8 mph
Shitty and getting shittier as we approach kickoff. We're approaching 45,000 sickos territory. I don't hate it.
Where are they from: Stillwater, OK. Somehow one of our more proximate conference foes.
All-time Series: 5-9. Seven losses in a row has a way of putting you behind the 8-ball. Here's to starting a streak of our own.
The Last Time We Played: West Virginia 24-19 Oklahoma State. We caught the Pokes in a monsoon at the tail end of their tail spin last year and were able to walk out of there with a win. Not a particularly fun game to watch, but a fun game to win.
Head coach: Mike Gundy (19th season, 160-77). The world of NIL may eventually cause the game to pass him by, but there are very few in the sport who are a synonymous with a brand as Gundy is with Oklahoma State.
2023 record: 4-2 (2-1). The South Alabama result remains the worst and most confusing of any Big 12 team this year, but the Pokes have looked more like themselves over the past two weeks.
WOMEN LIE, MEN LIE, NUMBERS DON’T
7 - Havoc plays generated by the Mountaineer defense against Houston after averaging 13.6 for the first 5 games.
9 - We blitzed on just 9 of 31 dropbacks against the Cougs after blitzing on 43/88 against Texas Tech and TCU. If it felt like Donovan Smith was way too comfortable last Thursday, it's because he was. We can't afford Alan Bowman the same luxury.
32 - Pressures allowed by the tackle rotation of Cooper, Birmingham, and Springfield, all of whom rank in the top 15 among Big 12 tackles.
80 - Opportunities (carries + targets) for Ollie Gordon since taking over the starting job against Iowa State. 26.7 per game.
6.2 - Yards per carry for Oklahoma State on 1st down this year, the 6th best mark in FBS. Early downs are especially crucial this week.
9.1% - Percentage of Bowman's passes that have travelled further than 20 yards in the air the year, by far the lowest number in the Big 12 and 3rd lowest in P5. Dude is a noodle arm, we can't be scared to play up on these receivers.
98 - QB pressures generated by the Pokes, good for 9th best in the B12. Only the 4 newbies and Baylor have produced fewer.
11 - 20+ yards pass plays allowed by the Pokes in 2 games in October. They're getable down the field.
WHEN WE HAVE THE BALL - LET GARRETT COOK
Mountaineers to Watch: QB6 Garrett Greene, RB4 CJ Donaldson, RB22 Jaheim White, WR5 Devin Carter, TE87 Kole Taylor
Pokes to Watch: DE94 Anthony Goodlow, LB31 Collin Oliver, CB8 DJ McKinney, CB2 Korie Black, S7 Cameron Epps
While I buy the idea that the Pokes have found something offensively, I'm not as convinced about the defense. Two of their last four opponents ran for over 200 yards, while the other two threw for 348 and 410. The only real difference the last two weeks has been the 5 takeaways, and as someone who watched most of both games I can't help but be dubious. 3 of those 5 came courtesy of Will Howard making three of the worst decisions I've seen from a quarterback this year this side of Phil Jurkovec, and the other 2 were an underthrow to a guy coming open in the end zone and a tip drill to a guy who wasn't open in the first place. Good for them I guess, but go watch the highlights and tell me how many were actually forced. Maybe one?
All signs point to this being a team that, if it's not falling ass-backwards into turnovers, we can gain yards and put up points on. They struggle against mobile quarterbacks, and they struggle to defend the pass down the field. *Looks around* I know a guy. Simply put, Garrett Greene is capable of taking this game by the scruff of the neck and winning it for us. Neal Brown has to let him.
WHEN THEY HAVE THE BALL - OLLIE OLLIE CAN'T GET FREE
Pokes to Watch: QB7 Alan Bowman, RB0 Ollie Gordon, WR80 Brennan Pressley, WR10 Rashod Owens, WR5 Jaden Bray
Mountaineers to Watch: DE91 Sean Martin, DE3 Tomi Durojaiye, LB1 Lee Kpogba, CB11 Beanie Bishop
Noodle Arm Bowman and the Cowboy receivers are Big 12 standard issue, but the main difference between the offense that averaged 322 yards and 20 points per game and 4.7 yards per play out of conference and the group who's averaging 458, 32, and 6.1 in conference play is the emergence of running back Ollie Gordon, who ranks 2nd nationally with 186.7 total yards per game during that span. This both simplifies and complicates things for our defense, as it's clear that our primary focus needs to be slowing him down but it's also a task easier said than done. Really it's just going to come down to winning at the line of scrimmage and rallying to the ball to get him down. Prior to last Thursday we'd done a pretty good job at that this year, and returning home for homecoming makes me think a return to form is likely. If we're able to keep him in check I don't think this is an offense that can run away from us.
X-FACTOR - TURNOVERS
We haven't generated a takeaway since Pitt; Oklahoma State has 5 in their last two games. Overall, they're +1.5 per game in their 4 wins and -2 per game in their 2 losses. May be a bit of a cop-out, but it feels like something has to give there.
6.5 out of 10. Non-committal fear factor here as it's just hard to know exactly what to make of Oklahoma State. Are we playing the October Pokes or September Pokes? Are the October Pokes really that much improved, or were they the benefactors of consecutive terrible performances from Will Howard and the Kansas red zone offense?
On paper it looks like a relatively close matchup on boths sides of the ball. We're both finding ourselves on offense and hoping that the defense can cause enough havoc to make it tough on the other side. In situations like that I like to look at the quarterbacks and coaching. I don't think that anybody would argue that the Pokes have the advantage in the latter, but for the first time in a while I feel like we have a decided advantage in the former, as Greene's playmaking exceeds anything that Alan Bowman is capable of. That's the difference in the game IMO, especially if the defense is able to slow Gordon down.