Cowboys try to lasso Mountaineers
Both Big 12 teams are 5-2 overall and 3-1 in their conference games.
But last week West Virginia and Oklahoma State were worlds apart. The Mountaineers capsized then-unbeaten Baylor and moved ahead to No. 22 in the national polls. The Cowboys were chewed up by the TCU Horned Frogs in a road game where they fell back early and never recovered, losing 42-9.
It will be Homecoming in Stillwater. A 10-day preparation period where an estimated 80,000 people tour fraternity and sorority rows seeing what the students have created with an orange theme precedes the football doings. Being back home in T. Boone Pickens Stadium with its overflow crowd of 60,000 rabid orange-clad fans always gives the Cowboys an emotional surge of energy they don’t find when playing on the road.
Will West Virginia visit the same heights it found last week against then-No. 4 Baylor?
As is the norm for this far along in the season, both teams have injuries with the Mountaineers wanting to bring Daryl Worley and Rushel Shell back after both were pounded around against Baylor. Worley’s injured ribs could need more healing time.
Ricky Rumph, Ishmael Banks, Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood all proved to be able replacements against the Bears.
If the Mountaineers have a misplaced feel-good impression of themselves and what they’ll find in Stillwater, Oklahoma State’s oft-frenzied fans will quickly show them that Saturdays in Stillwater can be as troubled for any opponent as a noise-filled day is in Morgantown for any “guest”.
The impossible-to-predict Big 12 season now has both teams with legitimate chances of winning the league championship. Of course, Kansas State, TCU, and Baylor are just as logical as championship choices.
It is almost a certainty that the Homecoming-pumped Cowboys will score more than the three field goals they managed in Fort Worth against TCU. West Virginia had a short lead at halftime against Baylor, and then won the game with two fourth-quarter scores the Bears couldn’t match.
Long field goals by Josh Lambert have been emotional lifts for the Mountaineers. Lambert drilled winning field goals on the last plays of both the Maryland and Texas Tech games. Both of those suspense-filled wins came on the road. And last week, Lambert aimed another 55-yarder at the hearts of the Bears just as the first half ended.
This will not be a game tip-toed through by either side. Talk and chatter will constantly flow. Mini celebrations will challenge the boiling points of too many players. If too many 15-yard penalties disrupt play like they did in the WVU-Baylor game then the home-team Cowboys will probably benefit.
West Virginia still has ranked teams in its future. TCU comes to Morgantown and Kansas State is on down the bumpy road.
A win for either team this Saturday makes them bowl eligible. A win for either team keeps them on the heels of Kansas State, the lone unbeaten team in conference play.
Orange on parade in T. Boone Pickens Stadium. West Virginia chasing another win with its whirlwind offense and usual leaders Clint Trickett, Mario Alford and Kevin White.