Oklahoma (7-2, 5-1) at West Virginia (5-4, 2-4)
Kickoff: 6:00 pm (CST)
Location: Mountaineer Field - Morgantown, WV
Radio: Sooner Radio Network
Opponent Blog: The Smoking Musket
The Sooners go on the road looking to stay in the BCS picture, while the Mountaineers are fighting for bowl eligibility and to halt a four game losing streak. It's somewhat ironic that Oklahoma will face Baylor and West Virginia in consecutive weeks seeing as how similar the two teams are. The problem with that being if Oklahoma has a repeat underwhelming performance for a second straight week, they could face some problems in a hostile environment they were not forced to deal with this past week at home.
West Virginia Scouting Report
Probably could have just copy and pasted Matt's version of this from last week and simply update the names, right? While not dead last in the country in total defense like Baylor was (and still is), WVU isn't much better checking in at 112 out of a possible 124. They allow a staggering 478 yards per game and an average of 6.39 yards per play (!!!). Obviously, those are the kind of defensive statistics that Josh Heupel goes to bed at night hoping to dream about.
As bad as their defense has been, the offense has been almost equally as good throughout the season. However, it's probably not a coincidence that they have looked mortal in recent weeks against two of the better defenses in the Big 12 (Kansas State & TCU).
Captain Obvious statement - This is a team that thrives in a shootout. They are all too happy to get into a back and forth game where neither team is all that interested in playing defense (see Baylor, Texas, & Oklahoma State). As much as a certain individual on this Oklahoma staff may be drooling all over himself at the prospect of such an encounter with Dana Holgorsen, there is one significant road block to that orgy of offense.
That road block's name is Mike Stoops. Now that certainly is not meant to imply this Oklahoma defense is going to shut down (or out) a loaded West Virginia defense. However, with that said is there any reason to believe they cannot slow them down and/or have the same level of success Kansas State did?
Admittedly, a lot of what happened in that KSU/WVU game was dictated by the substantial lead the Wildcats had on the scoreboard but Oklahoma has the personnel to match-up with the Mountaineers. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey will certainly present a formidable challenge for Demontre Hurst and Aaron Colvin. Add to that, if Holgorsen has been watching in recent weeks he'll use Geno Smith in the run game which only further complicates things for Mike Stoops and this OU defense.
In an obvious theme for this West Virginia team, the special teams are almost just as one sided. The Mountaineers excel in the return game with Austin terrorizing opponents in both kick and punt returns. While their kick and punt return coverage has been quite poor. Oklahoma has capitalized on big kickoff returns from both Brennan Clay and Roy Finch in recent weeks, so there could be opportunities to do so again on Saturday. Of course there is always Justin Brown in the punt return game just waiting for his chance to break off a big one as well.
Oklahoma seems to have the advantage in just about every area of this game, with few exceptions. What the Sooners must do is get pressure on
FlorenceSmith, by taking away his receivers, and forcing the BearsMountaineers to try and attack them on the ground. Yes, I know, that may be easier said than done.