Unit & Individual Battles As West Virginia Travels To Oklahoma
West Virginia vs Oklahoma
West Virginia rushing offense vs. Oklahoma run defense
WVU’s rushing offense (166.4 ypg, 5th in the Big 12) has had highs and lows this year. In the first nine games, it has run for more than 200 yards five times, but it has been held below 145 yards in the other four. Oklahoma’s defense against the run also has lacked consistency (150.3 ypg, 6th in the Big 12). In its first nine games, OU has limited five opponents to less than 140 yards. But the other four have all run for more than 165 including three who went for more than 210 – Tulane 237, K-State 268 and OSU 213.
West Virginia passing offense vs. Oklahoma pass defense
WVU’s passing attack (349.9 ypg) is sixth in the FBS ranks, and it went over 315 yards in eight of its first nine games. Despite a solid pass rush (2.2 sacks a game), OU’s pass defense has often struggled this year. For the season, it is allowing 262.8 ypg, which is fifth in the Big 12. On the surface, that appears to be OK, but condense that down to just Big 12 foes, and OU is being torched for 339.0 passing ypg, the ninth-best mark in the league.
Advantage: West Virginia
Oklahoma rushing offense vs. West Virginia run defense
The Sooners’ ground attack may not be quite what it was last year when Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon were pounding opponents to the tune of 236.8 ypg. But even with those two now in the NFL, OU still has the best rushing offense in the Big 12, averaging 213.1 ypg.
Instead of Perine and Mixon, Oklahoma is led now by Abdul Adams (67.3) and Trey Sermon (63.1). As a team, OU has rushed for less than 170 yards just one in its first nine games. WVU’s rush defense (193.1 ypg) will be severely tested.
Oklahoma passing offense vs. West Virginia pass defense
WVU’s passing defense (254.0 ypg) has already faced three of the top passing offenses in the FBS ranks in Oklahoma State (No. 2, averaging 338, gained 216 vs WVU), Texas Tech (No. 5, averaging 354, gained 323 vs WVU) and ECU (No. 17, averaging 308, gained 328 vs WVU). Now West Virginia will face the best, as Oklahoma leads all the FBS in passing with an average of 395.0 ypg.
Oklahoma special teams vs. West Virginia special teams
Both coverage units are solid, and each has good though not great return games. Of OU’s 72 kickoffs, 58 have been touchbacks, the highest percentage in the Big 12. But WVU’s punt team has pinned its foe inside the 20 17 times. OU has just five.
WVU hasn’t beaten the Sooners since it joined the Big 12 in 2012. Those five straight OU wins include a couple tight affairs at Mountaineer Field. But in Norman, OU has won by an average of 14.5 points. Oklahoma is 16-1 at Memorial Stadium over the past three seasons, while WVU is 6-6 in road games in that time.
Oklahoma’s defense is its Achilles Heel, as the Sooners have allowed four opponents to score 35 or more points this year. But OU has still won three of those high-scoring affairs because its offense is among the best in the country, averaging 45.0 points a game. West Virginia’s own offense (40.2 ppg) is good enough to put up points on a porous OU D, even without Will Grier. The Mountaineer defense (20.9 ppg), however, figures to struggle to hold Baker Mayfield and friends in check.
Predicted Score: Oklahoma-45 West Virginia-41