It looked like Oklahoma might have to play through a blizzard, but the weather calmed down and the offense heated up as the Sooners dominated West Virginia for a 56-28 victory on Saturday night in Morgantown.
In one sense, this game wasn’t as close as its final score would suggest—the Sooners took a 34-7 lead into halftime and had scored five times before West Virginia ever got on the board. But in another way, this was the closest blowout OU’s played all season. After all, the Mountaineers outgained OU 579-485 in the contest, and ran the ball at will through large stretches of the game. Turnovers and undisciplined play proved to be West Virginia’s undoing in this one, as the Sooners punched hard right out of the gate and then took the ball away when WVU tried to punch back.
I love how Mike Stoops put it after the game. The two teams, if you’ll recall, got into a bit of a fracas before kickoff because Oklahoma was gathering on the WVU logo. The Mountaineers charged at them to defend their, uh, honor, or something.
“That’s what happens when you poke a bear,” Mike said. “I don’t know who they thought they were playing. We’ve been doing this a lot of years.”
I don’t know who they thought they were playing. So cocky. I love it! Especially from a guy whose unit got torched for almost 600 yards. He might as well have said, “Look, I didn’t know what kind of night I was going to have, but I knew what kind of night Lincoln was going to have.”
Now, I do want to commend the defense in one respect. They forced crucial three-and-outs in the early stages while OU was building its crazy-fast lead. The Mountaineers didn’t even take the ball into Sooners territory until they were already behind 21-0, and even then the defense recovered red-zone fumbles on consecutive drives. If not for an early dropped Jordan Evans interception—he’d get that one back—the carnage could have been even worse.
So no, it wasn’t encouraging watching the unit get gashed repeatedly, especially in the second half when the OU lead diminished rapidly over the course of eight minutes (people forget, OU was still up by 34 until the 2:40 mark in the third quarter). And a big lead certainly doesn’t excuse a poor effort—no team should need reminding of what can happen over the course of a game. But all in all, I’m encouraged that the unit stepped up when it needed to, generated some turnovers and limited the West Virginia passing attack.
Other than maybe Jordan Evans, no defender can lay claim to a game ball this week. You know who I’d give it to? The entire Oklahoma offensive line. They absolutely dominated the vaunted WVU front seven, allowing Perine and Mixon room to roam while giving Baker all the time he needed. Mayfield’s final line would have been even better if not for some uncharacteristic drops by his wideouts, and he rarely was pressured or hurried into a throw. He didn’t get sacked all day (neither did Skyler Howard, but whatever). Bravo, O-line. Props again to Bill Bedenbaugh.
West Virginia’s frustration manifested in some very unproductive ways. Things really fell apart for them in the second quarter, when the Mountaineers started doing things like running into Austin Seibert and getting 30 yards of personal foul penalties on the same play. It was obvious the game wasn’t going at all how they’d anticipated.
And now, after surviving snowy Morgantown, the Sooners play a Bedlam game for the Big 12 title—and maybe more. After all, FiveThirtyEight gives OU a 39 percent chance to make the Playoff now, which is better than its odds for Michigan, Washington and Wisconsin. I find that number almost absurdly high, but Nate Silver has had a decent couple of weeks. We shall see.
If nothing else, of course, it’s always a blast to play Little Brother with something big on the line. And the Sooners have two weeks to get healthy before they do it. Hopefully the Cowboys will try some pregame shenanigans before that contest, too—if this game was any indication, OU will be up 49-0 by halftime if they do.