The yards pile up whenever Oklahoma plays at West Virginia, bringing the possibility of a fast and fun pace to a matchup Saturday that means little in the Big 12 race.
Based on their other performances this season, though, the Sooners and Mountaineers have the defenses capable of guarding against another scorefest.
No. 13 Oklahoma (7-2, 6-2 Big 12, No. 11 CFP) already has secured a spot in next week’s conference championship game against No. 10 Iowa State. West Virginia (5-4, 4-4) is trying to finish the regular season strong and show that it’s made progress in the second year under coach Neal Brown.
Just look at what’s happened in the four meetings between the schools in Morgantown, West Virginia, since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012, all won by the Sooners.
The average score: 53-42.
The combined offensive numbers: 1,372 yards in 2018, 1,064 in 2016, 1,023 in 2014 and 1,440 in 2012. Two of those games involved Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
“We’ve had some pretty epic games down there,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “I think it’s just more of, you’re playing a good football team on the road that tends to play pretty well at home. Those are always a challenge.”
With redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler now leading the Sooners, there’s not many signs of slowing down. Rattler has four 300-yard passing performances and three times has thrown four touchdown passes.
But West Virginia, which is 0-8 against Oklahoma since joining the league, has one of its best defenses in years. The Mountaineers are just one of seven Bowl Subdivision teams allowing under 300 yards per game.
Oklahoma has done well of late against opposing offenses, allowing four touchdowns combined over the last three games. The Sooners are coming off a 27-14 home win over Baylor.
Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto and Big 12 sacks leader Isaiah Thomas have combined for 20.5 tackles for loss, and defensive end Ronnie Perkins has four sacks in four games since returning from suspension.
“All of those guys have the ability to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “Since Perkins came back, he’s played as good as any d-lineman in our league.”
West Virginia has held five Big 12 opponents to 21 points or less and has three of the league’s top 10 tacklers in linebackers Tony Fields and sophomore Tykee Smith along with cornerback Alonzo Addae.
Some other things to know about Oklahoma and West Virginia:
The game originally was scheduled to be played Nov. 28 but was postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Sooners.
“First time I’ve ever had two press conferences for the same game,” Riley said.
The Mountaineers are trying to close out their first unbeaten season at home since 2009. Conversely, they were 0-4 on the road, including last week’s 42-6 loss at No. 10 Iowa State.
“We’ve got an opponent just as good if not better than the one we just played last week,” West Virginia linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said. “If we harp on last week too much, you’ll see the same result.”
One reason why the Sooners have won six straight: They’ve outscored opponents 127-17 in the first quarter this season.
“That’s a big thing for us. We like to start fast and finish fast,” Rattler said. “Our goal on offense is to just get out there, be efficient and put up points.”
In four games since returning from suspension, Oklahoma’s Rhamondre Stevenson has scored six touchdowns and led the Sooners in rushing. He’s also caught 14 passes for 175 yards.
NOT LOOKING AHEAD
Oklahoma’s players insist they’re willing to wait before turning attention to trying to win the Sooners’ sixth straight league championship.
“We need to go out there this week and dominate and go into the Big 12 championship with confidence in ourselves after we get the job done this week,” Oklahoma tight end Jeremiah Hall said. “So we’re not really looking ahead. We’re locked in on West Virginia this week.”
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