I hadn't initially planned on writing something along these lines when the week first started, but I continue to hear a prevailing thought from Oklahoma fans (and from those who cover the team) with respect to Saturday's game. The belief seems to be two fold: (1) this game has lost nearly all of the meaning many expected it to have during the preseason and (2) West Virginia's defense is so atrocious that Oklahoma should cut through them like a hot knife through butter.
I should preface this by disclosing I am an OU fan who can find a reason/s to be worried in just about any game. It's not that I lack confidence in our Sooners, more that I tend to envision worst case scenarios. This is more commonly known as being a pessimist. If you've spent any amount of time here, this is not news to you.
If you're not one of those people, then welcome and yes, I'm that fan. But by all means, please keep reading.
Again, it's not that I lack confidence in Oklahoma's ability to win this game. Quite the opposite actually. I certainly wouldn't sit here and try to convince you the West Virginia defense has been anything less than what many have referred to it as, well, heinous. Their defense sucks, to be perfectly frank. I don't suspect there are any WVU fans out there under illusions to the contrary.
However, it's odd how the things we are hearing about this week's opponent are so similar to that which we heard last week heading into the Baylor game. "Explosive offense ... horrible defense ... Oklahoma should have no problems." And yet what did we see last Saturday? An Oklahoma offense playing down to their competition and facing an onside kick the result of which could have lead to a potential game tying drive. Now obviously that didn't happen, but the fact OU was even in that position to begin with should tell you where we're heading with this.
All of that happened at home, where even in spite of some inexplicable struggles, Oklahoma still plays with a fairly high level of confidence. I doubt I have to remind any of you here the same cannot be said for this team's success in road game, at night.
So is it inconceivable to imagine a scenario in which the Sooners struggle in Morgantown? Let West Virginia hang around, maybe even get behind by a couple scores, give what is sure to be a hostile crowd reason to get into the game? I'm not sure you have to be a pessimist to be worried about any/all of those things happening.
I guess my issue is people seem to think just because West Virginia has lost their last four games and is clearly struggling with the step-up in their level of competition, that this is going to be some kind of a cakewalk. Maybe it proves to be exactly that, but I'm not sure what this Oklahoma team has done under Bob Stoops in recent years to give any OU fan the unwavering level of confidence so many appear to have heading into this game.
In my opinion, this is a desperate West Virginia team and as a result they could not be more dangerous. For any number of reasons.
- I think you're kidding yourself if you think this crowd won't be crazy just because they in the midst of a four game losing streak. It's a night game. On national television. I'm just gonna go ahead a guess a decent amount of those in attendance will be well hydrated.
- As I said, this is a desperate football team. How many times have we seen a team get their season and/or program defining win against a Bob Stoops lead Oklahoma program? Too many to count as far as I'm concerned. You think this West Virginia team won't come into this game with that very mentality?
- I don't care how bad your defense is or how good we believe the OU secondary to be, when you have Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey you're not out of any game. If Mike Stoops attempts to cover Austin with a linebacker, I'll set the over/under on him finishing with around 75 receptions and roughly 857 yards.
- Landry Jones. In a night game. On the road. Need I say more?