Happy Game day, Sooner Nation! Hopefully all of you enjoyed a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready for a Friday night edition of Oklahoma Sooners football. After surrendering 40 points to Kansas at home last week, a date with the West Virginia Mountaineers under the lights in Morgantown awaits OU this evening.
With WVU coming off a close loss to Oklahoma State last week, Dana Holgorsen’s crew will be looking to rebound and close their conference regular season with an upset over the Sooners and advance to play for their first Big 12 title. Lincoln Riley and company have will have other designs in mind, as a win in Morgantown would propel Oklahoma to a fourth-straight conference championship game next weekend and despite their defensive woes, OU still has an outside shot at a College Football Playoff depending on how things shake out across the country in Week 13.
Head on down to the comments section for the game thread, where we’ll be asking questions, making predictions and discussing the day’s action with y’all.
TV: ESPN 7:00 P.M. CT (Friday, November 23rd)
Live Stream: WatchESPN
TV Commentary: Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe
In case you missed it, here’s episode 9 of Oklahoma Breakdown with Jason Kersey of The Athletic. (Fair warning: As usual, this week’s podcast has some NSFW language. Also, please excuse Jack’s cough.)
The winner of this matchup between Oklahoma and West Virginia gets Texas in the Big 12 title game, provided the Longhorns — who took care of Iowa State in Week 12 — are able to beat Kansas this afternoon. While many expected both the Sooners and Mountaineers to be in the hunt this season for a conference title, this game in Morgantown was thought to possibly be the teams’ first meeting followed by an inevitable rematch the following week in the conference championship game regardless of who won. That was before the Pokes played spoiler last week in Stillwater.
Now, the Sooners could get a primetime Red River rematch with Texas for all the Big 12 marbles next weekend. Unless they’re still reeling from the gut-wrenching loss at home to the Cowboys, I’m sure the Mountaineer attack will feast on OU’s defense this evening, as the last three opponents certainly have especially through the air. WVU comes into the contest ranked ninth in the country in scoring at 40.9 points per game and earlier this season put up 42 in the big road win in Austin.
But will the Mountaineers’ 3-3-5 scheme that used to hamper many teams be able to slow down Kyler Murray and company on the other side? I’m not so sure, although with the fever pitch of Couch Burner U’s stadium could play a factor in communication and relaying of play calls, which could possibly lead to a turnover or two for Oklahoma, as appeared to be the case early on in Lubbock three weeks ago. If Murray gives quarterback Will Grier extra possessions to find his skill players, most notably All-Big 12 performer David Sills V, it could be a long night for the Sooners.
The running back situation for OU has me a bit anxious, as well, with Trey Sermon and T.J. Pledger’s statuses still up in the air. While Kennedy Brooks is an excellent back capable of carrying the bulk of the rushing load for a second week in a row, this isn’t Kansas he’s facing this evening, and OU’s offense certainly needs some backup in the backfield against a team of West Virginia’s caliber.
Oklahoma will need the legs of Murray to again help power the run game, as his timely scrambles came up huge last week, including on one 75-yard touchdown run against the Jayhawks. OU’s rushing attack will be crucial in controlling time of possession, something the Riley and the Sooners may need to lean on given the potential explosiveness of the Grier-led Mountaineer offense against a reeling Sooners secondary now facing one of the most hostile environments in college football.
If Oklahoma can take care of the ball, they should walk out of coal country with a close win in hand and a clash with (most likely) their arch-rival Texas on the horizon. A chance to avenge October’s loss in the Cotton Bowl and take the Big 12 crown over the Longhorns would be a spectacular way to end the regular season, and it all rests a game — a huge game in Morgantown — away for Oklahoma.
This one’s tough for me to call and has me feeling pretty tense. I have to go with the nation’s best all-around player and most exciting playmaker Kyler Murray to out-duel Grier and the Mountaineers in a tough, hard-fought battle all the way out in the Big 12 boondocks.
Score prediction: OU 52, WVU 48
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