West Virginia collides with Oklahoma
The three wins West Virginia has against its non-conference schedule will eventually come in handy when bowl bids are tossed out. The same can be said of Oklahoma and its victories over Akron, Tennessee in double overtime and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane last week.
However, all those games have been hurriedly shuttled aside in both Big 12 camps because the conference schedule is here this Saturday.
Not many people in southern West Virginia know where Norman, Oklahoma is; and not many people in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma know where Morgantown is. But the coaching staffs of each school might know what quarterbacks Skyler Howard and Baker Mayfield eat for breakfast, choose as their favorite ice cream and put on their steaks in pre-game meals.
In many stalls in each locker room, the records might be 3-0 but the season begins on Saturday before a crowd of over 85,000 at 11 a.m. Central Daylight Time.
In their last outing, the Mountaineers carved up Randy Edsall and his bedraggled Maryland Terrapins. Karl Joseph, Daryl Worley, Terrell Chestnut, K.J. Dillon and Jeremy Tyler all had interceptions.
Wendell Smallwood rushed for 147 yards on 22 carries. Rushel Shell had 77 yards on 15 tries. Shelton Gibson caught six passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Howard threw 33 times and had 21 completions for 294 yards and four touchdowns.
That 45-6 squashing of the Terps will be long forgotten when Saturday’s kickoff soars through the noise-filled air in Norman.
So will Oklahoma’s Houdini-like escape against Tennessee in two overtimes in Knoxville, and its 52-38 win last week against Tulsa.
Some will remember Oklahoma’s 773 yards of total offense against Tulsa. But they will be trying to forget the 603 yards of total offense the Oklahoma defense got soaked for by Tulsa.
Oklahoma had a staggering 39 first downs in that win. But Tulsa had 31. The Boomer Sooners and Mayfield threw for 487 yards . . . but Tulsa totaled 427 passing yards when it had the ball against the retreating Sooner defense.
Bull-like runner Samarje Perine ran for 152 yards and quarterback Mayfield had another 85 yards and two TDs on the ground.
Sooner receiver Sterling Shepard had eight catches for 144 yards.
Tulsa had so many offensive plays that four Oklahomans (Hatari Byrd, Dominique Alexander, Jordan Evans and Ahmad Thomas) all had at least 10 tackles.
Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops employs his brother as his defensive coordinator. Stoops is still the toast of the prairie because for the last 15 seasons his teams have won at least eight games and his winning percentage is second only to Ohio State’s Urban Meyer among the nation’s coaches.
The Mountaineers have not played a road game. In their three wins, the Mountaineers have shown some depth, especially in the defensive secondary. And they have shown a balanced offense that doesn’t mind running right at an opponent.
On Saturday, the Sooner Schooner covered wagon will thunder onto the field led by its white ponies.
West Virginia will be waiting, anticipating some success far away from home.
Will the people in Norman know where Morgantown is? Only if the Mountaineers give them a lesson on the scoreboard will they accept the geography lesson they need to know.
Will the people in War, Coalwood, Harts and Ceredo-Kenova know where Norman is? Only if the Mountaineers silence the throaty calls coming from the leather-lunged Big Red faithful packed into Memorial Stadium.