WVU And The Big 12: Week 12
West Virginia couldn’t have figured out a tougher way to finish its season.
In Week 11 the Mountaineers played at Milan Puskar Stadium against TCU, in this Week 12, they travel to Oklahoma State and in the season finale they play at home again against Oklahoma … probably the three best teams in the conference.
And, as if that weren’t enough, if they survive that, they probably would head into the Big 12 Championship game against … who? Oklahoma again?
Oh, by the way, the week before the WVU-Oklahoma game, while WVU is playing Oklahoma State, the Sooners are playing … Kansas?
And, in case you were wondering, WVU has only six days, not seven, between games.
By accident? One might question that.
How tough is that? Well last season WVU gave up 109 points to Oklahoma State (50) and Oklahoma (59) while the offense scored only 56. They Mountaineers threw only two TD passes in those games, but Grier was injured and missed the Oklahoma game.
Holgorsen maintains he’s not concerned about the backloaded schedule.
“I don’t even know our schedule. I think we play Kansas State our first conference game and I know our first three non-conference games,” he said as camp opened. “But that’s all I’ve looked at this point. It does us no good to look at that.
“The thing about the Big 12 is you play everybody ever year. It doesn’t matter when you play them. You have to play them all.’
As for this week’s OSU game, the Cowboys are good, but quarterback Mason Rudolph is gone, so they are not quite as good … and it’s hard to imagine WVU getting off to as bad a start as the did last year when it fell behind, 30-10 in the third quarter.
The only way WVU got back into the game was by scoring on a blocked punt and Kenny Robinson pass interception run back for a TD, without any offense at all.
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Nov. 17 — WVU at Oklahoma State; Time, TV TBA
If there was one game that you would label disappointing last year, it was WVU’s home game against the Cowboys. True, West Virginia was the lower-ranked of the two teams, OSU at No. 11 and WVU at 22, but the Mountaineers had the home field advantage and were playing to avenge that upset a year earlier when unranked OSU toppled No. 10 WVU. But West Virginia’s offense did not show, QB Will Grier suffering through his most dismal day, as he threw four interceptions while completing only 20-of-42 passes. Now WVU has to go to Oklahoma State but the tables are changed, West Virginia should be the higher-ranked team, the Heisman Trophy candidate is not the departed Rudolph but is Grier instead, geared up to make amends and with maybe the season on the line. The bad news is that Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill, who may be the best runner in the conference, is back after the Cowboys ran for 247 yards vs. the Mountaineers last season and that WVU controlled Rudolph last year, holding him to just 216 passing yards. Without Rudolph, they might be able to shut the Cowboy passing game down.
Prediction: WVU 38, Oklahoma State 20
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Non-WVU Big 12 Game of the Week
Nov. 17 — Iowa State at Texas; 8 p.m., Longhorn Network
Intriguing match up here as Iowa State continues to try to establish itself as a loud voice in the conference under Matt Campbell and Texas tries to regain its rightful place at or near the top of the Big 12 under Tom Herman. Last year Iowa State had showed signs that it was ready to compete as it scored 42, 41 and 41 to open the season against Northern Iowa, Iowa and Akron but then played its conference opener against Texas. The Longhorn defense was ready, winning 17-7. Everyone figured, there goes Iowa State again … but they were wrong, for the Cyclones came back to score the upset of the year in the conference as they won at No. 3 Oklahoma. 38-31. Oklahoma had won 14 straight for the longest win streak in the nation and its last 18 against Iowa State. The Cyclones went on to beat Kansas, Texas Tech and No. 4 TCU in a row before losing to WVU. This should be a war.
Prediction: Texas 24, Iowa State 21
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Nov. 17 — Kansas at Oklahoma, Time, TV TBA
Sooners will spend a lot of time practicing this week, but bet much of it is spent on Nov. 23 opponent WVU. Kansas can’t play with the Sooners, and it will show.
Prediction: Oklahoma 63, Kansas 3
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Nov. 17 — TCU at Baylor, Time, TV TBA
This is a historic and evenly contested rivalry. Historic? They have met 113 times. Even? TCU leads, 54-52-7. Now, TCU has dominated recently with three consecutive wins, but in truth, this is a series build on parity with 42 games, including the seven ties, being settled by seven or fewer points. And that has carried over into this decade between schools just 90 miles apart and originally both located in Waco, Texas. In 2011 it was Baylor surviving, 50-48, behind Robert Griffin III and, in 2014, Baylor turned what looked like a blow out for TCU into a victory, as it overcame a 21-point deficit to win 61-58. That game carried another bonus, knocking TCU out of the first college football playoff and leaving the two teams tied for the Big 12 title at 11-1. This year, Baylor is improving and is at home and … why not?
Prediction: Baylor 31, TCU 28
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Nov. 17 — Texas Tech at Kansas State, Time, TV TBA
This is always an interesting match up of differing philosophies, Kliff Kingsbury’s wide-open, wild-west gunslinger theory at Texas Tech and cagey old Bill Snyder’s conservative, defensive-minded Kansas State football. Nothing much has proved by the series, though, as each team has won nine times, Kansas State riding a two-game winning streak against the Red Raiders into this game. Once more, Kingsbury may be coaching for his job and if he is, this is a tough venue to win it at, especially considering that it also could be Snyder’s final game as K-State coach, should he decide its time to retire and enjoy the luxury of being a Hall of Fame coach with his family.
Prediction: Kansas State 31, Texas Tech 24