OU football: A lot is on the line against West Virginia on Saturday
Back in September, this is the game many fans had circled on their calendars.
But two-and-a-half months and a combined six losses later, the Oklahoma-West Virginia matchup no longer has the same Big 12 and BCS implications.
West Virginia has lost four straight games since starting the season 5-0 and has yet to become bowl eligible. Senior quarterback Geno Smith, once the runaway favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, has fallen out of the race, and the Mountaineers’ offense has cooled off considerably, averaging 25 points per game during its last four contests compared to 52 during its first five.
But the Sooners aren’t taking the Mountaineers lightly.
“Our guys have heard all the hype through the year, and rightfully so, on their high-powered offense and strength as a team overall and how difficult it is to play up there,” coach Bob Stoops said. “Our guys are aware of those things.
“I sensed in the locker room after the game that they understood it and were looking forward to the challenge of it.”
West Virginia’s defense is giving up more points per game than its offense is scoring — 41.4 points allowed per game to 40 points scored per game — but coach Dana Holgorsen still has one of the top offenses in college football, ranking No. 10 in scoring and No. 5 in passing offense.
“We know they’re explosive,” senior safety Javon Harris said. “We know what they’re capable of. We saw what they did at the beginning of the year. You can never sleep on a team like that.”
Despite its two losses, OU still has an outside chance to play in a BCS bowl, but the Sooners are taking it one game at a time.
“You have to win, you have to win this week,” Stoops said. “Everyone can project, but they’re not always right. We need to continue to do what we’re doing and try to win this week.”
The Sooners have won back-to-back games since losing to Notre Dame at home, but two of their last three games are on the road. OU will be tested, and the Sooners will rely on their maturity, senior quarterback Landry Jones said.
“I think we are a pretty mature team on both sides of the ball,” Jones said. “We have strong upperclassmen and leaders on both sides of the all.
“Not just one guy here or there but a good group of guys that are pushing these things and pushing it in the right direction right now.”
The Sooners and the Mountaineers are slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.