Annual WVU vs. Oklahoma game this week
SHEPHERDSTOWN — When Oklahoma stumbled and fell in the early season while losing to both Kansas State and Iowa State, the Big 12 football world was wondering what happened to the always-dominant Sooners.
But now that the season has lurched along toward its end, the Sooners have won five consecutive times and improved to 6-2 overall and 5-2 in conference games.
Last Saturday, it was arch rival Oklahoma State that felt the sting of the resurgent Sooners, when Oklahoma registered an order-restoring 41-13 win over the Cowboys.
Now it’s West Virginia, coming off a bye week, that sees the transformed red and white offense the now-potent Sooners show once again.
West Virginia is 5-3 overall and 4-3 in the Big 12 scramble. Even with the smallish home crowds kept to a minimum by the coronavirus rules, the Mountaineers are 5-0 at home. Oklahoma is 2-1 in its three road games.
Against Oklahoma State, the Sooners produced 492 yards of total offense, with 301 of those yards coming on the ground.
The surfacing Sooners have gradually gurgled toward the top of the conference standings and will visit Morgantown in second place behind only Iowa State, the top team with its 6-1 conference record.
West Virginia also stands in back of Texas (4-2) and Oklahoma State (4-2) in its quest to reach the league’s championship game.
In previous West Virginia vs. Oklahoma games the scoreboard operators were given no time to seek refreshments or breaks of any kind since both teams scored in bunches against each beleaguered defense.
This season, both sides have defenses made of sterner stuff.
The Mountaineers have been checking the offenses of most opponents, including that of Texas Christian in a recent game. Oklahoma hasn’t had to top 60 points in order to outrun its last five opponents.
A West Virginia win would guarantee a winning season. Only high-riding Iowa State is left to play after the Boomer Sooners leave town. And that game is in Ames, Iowa.
Oklahoma’s early miseries cost it any chance of reaching the national semifinals, where it has often rested recently.
The crowd will again be minimal, because of health precautions. But the sideline atmosphere will be as electric as it can be under the masked circumstances.
The hills may be alive with deer hunters. And the television sets may be lit with excitement from Matewan to Bakerton and from Follansbee to War, but the forced silence in Milan Puskar Stadium will have to be accepted by players and fans alike.