On the road, in front of a hostile crowd, playing at night Oklahoma's offense only managed one scoring drive in the first quarter against West Virginia, resulting in a season low three points in the game's first fifteen minutes.
The scoring drive came on the Sooners' second possession of the game when they went 70 yards from their own five yard line. The drive stalled out at the WVU 25 though when Trevor Knight missed on back-to-back passes to Sterling Shepard and K.J. Young. After Michael Hunnicutt connected on a 42-yard field goal to put Oklahoma up 3-0, the Sooners would manage just one yard on their next three offensive possessions.
Trailing 10-3 in the second quarter, Oklahoma's offense balanced itself by rediscovering their rushing attack. Not sure if it was a memo sent to Josh Heupel or just a startling revelation by Oklahoma's offensive coordinator, but the result was an unstoppable ground game in the second quarter. True freshman Samaje Perine entered the halftime locker room with 111 yards on 14 carries and, aided by a 100-yard kickoff return by Alex Ross, the Sooners' scored three touchdowns in the second quarter.
Sticking with the run in the opening drive of the third quarter, Perine carried the ball four times for twenty-three yards and put the Sooners back on top with a nine yard run. Unfortunately Perine wasn't on the field for the second possession of the third half and the drive resulted in a three-and-out.
A 31-yard field goal by Josh Lambert pulled the Mountaineers to within 31-27 Oklahoma got a few productive runs from sophomore Alex Ross before Perine took it in from five yards out to increase the Sooners' lead to 38-27. Perine would then put the final nail in the Mountaineers' coffin with a 19-yard scoring run at the 4:30 mark of the fourth quarter.
Perine's final stat line read 242 yards on 34 carries (7.1 YPC) and four touchdowns, all of those being career highs. He's the first Sooner running back to crack the 200 yard mark since DeMarco Murray did so against Utah State in 2010. It's also the first time a freshman scored four touchdowns in a game since Blake Bell accomplished the feat against Iowa in the 2011 Insight Bowl.
Fans were rightfully frustrated with Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel for not running the ball more often in the first quarter. However, Heupel is due some credit for adjusting the game plan to what was working. The Sooners attempted 12 passes in the first fifteen minutes and ran the ball ten times. From that point on the offensive game plan was slanted in favor of the run by a two-to-one margin of 36-18.
The offensive game plan not only proved that OU can win on the road with a power rushing attack but that Trevor Knight also needs the run to take the pressure off. It was clear that he settled into the flow of the game after the running game got going.
Quarterback - Knight shook off a slow start to throw for 205 yards but still...he had a slow start. He also threw a pick with no touchdown passes. Style points though for catching his first touchdown as a Sooner. Overall Grade: B-
Offensive Line - The Sooners pushed West Virginia around up front and helped Perine to his career night. They also provided adequate protection for Knight as the Sooner quarterback went unsacked. Overall Grade: A+
Running Backs - We already discussed Perine's night at length but Alex Ross had a solid night as well. He averaged 7 yards per carry (8/56) and ran a kickoff back 100 yards to tie the game at 24-24. Overall Grade: A+
Receivers - Sterling Shepard quietly had a 100 plus night in receiving yards and K.J. Young was stellar with 57 yards on 5 receptions (both career highs). Durron Neal threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Knight but he also had a couple of dropped passes. Overall Grade: A-