Oklahoma Guts Out Win Over West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Beating No. 12 West Virginia 59-56 was business as usual for No. 6 Oklahoma: Another berth in the Big 12 championship game, another road win, and another shot at the ultimate prize, the extending their status as a contender for the four-team College Football Playoff.
How do the Sooners do it?
“Guts,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “It’s awesome. It’s what we do.”
The road win, Oklahoma’s 20th in a row, lands the Sooners in the Big 12 title game, to be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec.1. The Sooners will meet Texas for a chance to avenge their only loss of the season. That came Oct. 6.
“We’ll be excited to play but we want to be the only team to win four of these in a row,” Riley said, referring to Big 12 titles. “You look at the history of this OU program… we’ve got a chance to make history here.”
Oklahoma, the nation’s leader in scoring offense, again ran up big numbers, amassing 668 yards of offense, 304 rushing and averaging 10.3 yards per play. The 115 points was the highest-scoring game in the seven-game Oklahoma-WVU history, surpassing the 99 combined points in the 2012 game in Morgantown.
Quarterback Kyler Murray completed 20-of-27 passes for 364 yards and touchdowns of 25, 45, and two yards. He also ran nine times for 114 yards, including a 55-yard score in the first quarter to tie the score at 7-7.
Kicker Austin Seibert also continued to be a weapon. Of his 10 kickoffs, eight went for touchbacks and only one was returned.
But it was the defense that came up with an unexpected lift, turning two fumbles by WVU quarterback Will Grier into touchdowns.
“We needed contributions from all three sides,” Riley said, “and we had some big plays in the kicking game again. Obviously, the two touchdowns defensively were probably the difference in the game,” Riley said. “At the end of the day, when you score two touchdowns defensively, you like your chances. I’m proud of those big plays.”
In the second quarter, Caleb Kelly did all the work himself, punching the ball out of Grier’s arms, scooping it up and running it into the end zone for a 10-yard score. The touchdown gave the Sooners a 35-21 lead.
With a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, OU’s Kenneth Mann hit Grier’s arm, causing the quarterback to fumble forward, into the hands of Curtis Bolton, who ran it in from 48 yards.
“(WVU) had some really good receivers but we held up our end of the bargain when we needed it most,” cornerback Parnell Motley said. “In a game like this, for all the marbles, and the Big 12 championship, we came up big.”
Riley also exhibited guts in going for it on a fourth-and-five at the WVU 40 with 2:36 left to play. The result, a sliding catch by CeeDee Lamb, was good for eight yards and a first down. The catch sealed the win for the Sooners.
“I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Riley said. “There was enough time and with us having three time outs, just the way the game was going, I didn’t want to give them the ball back. And I felt like we had a great chance to get it.”
The win gives the Sooners their 10th Big 12 championship berth and second straight since the contest returned in 2017.