WVU – Oklahoma State Just Half Of Defining Big 12 Saturday Schedule

WVU – Oklahoma State Just Half Of Defining Big 12 Saturday Schedule


MORGANTOWN, W. Va.  — Even before the season began it became evident to anyone who believed in West Virginia football that this week’s home meeting with Oklahoma State would probably be the defining game in the season … for West Virginia and maybe the Big 12 as a whole.

They were right … sort of.

It certainly is for WVU, which has two losses, one in the conference to TCU, and can not afford to lose any more, especially to an Oklahoma State team that many foresaw as the main challenge to Oklahoma in the Big 12.

But while the weekend is right, the defining game in the conference may not be this ABC-TV noon affair at all, but instead is as unlikely a matchup as anyone would have dared imagine … TCU at Iowa State.

Iowa State?

The talk is that this has become the biggest game in Iowa State’s history, which may or may not be true, but it certainly is a game that shows how the Big 12 is changing, and changing rapidly.

True, WVU is No. 22 and Oklahoma State No. 11/12 and the winner of that game may well be in position to make a run to the renewed Big 12 championship game.

And in star value, this game is a must watch for it matches Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, a preseason Heisman candidate, and WVU’s Will Grier, who has played himself into midseason consideration for the award while on a school record pace for TDs.

The two are 1-2 in total offense in the Big 12.

And Rudolph is hardly all the Cowboys have in their offense, also possessing the leading rusher in the Big 12, Justice Hill, and the No. 3 rusher in WVU’s Justin Crawford.

“The last two weeks (before the tough offensive day against Texas) they set a school record for yards gained,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They didn’t have much success against what is turning into a heck of a defense at Texas.”

It is one the biggest home game WVU will play this year.

As for whether it’s the biggest game on the Big 12 schedule this week, you might have to look elsewhere.

Who is in first place in the conference? Who is unbeaten in the conference, a conference that is wide open?

“Half our league has been ranked in the Top 25. That should tell you how good the conference is,” Holgorsen said

TCU, that’s who is first, the team that beat WVU and that looks like the soundest, most balanced team in the league, something that really isn’t as surprising as it seems for Gary Patterson is used to putting together teams of this ilk.

And, when Bob Stoops stepped down at Oklahoma, turning it over to Lincoln Riley, a man never was a head coach and who became the youngest head coach in college football, the Sooners went from a sure bet to championship game to a team with an unknown at its most important position — coach.

Already Oklahoma has a loss, and here’s the thing about that loss.

It came against Iowa State, a school that is shocking college football in Matt Campbell’s second year as coach there.

Iowa State, with a win, could find itself tied for the Big 12 lead and with victories over the Sooners and TCU, to say nothing of owning a 6-2 record. That is why they are saying this is such a huge game, maybe the biggest ever for them.

“I feel like everyone has said that about every game we’ve played over the last three weeks and that has really helped us,” Campbell said. “It kind of negates all that’s being said outside our walls but we don’t worry about that.

“That’s one strength this team really has. We have great senior leadership and those guys have really demanded we stay the course whether we won the game or lost some really close games,” Campbell continued. “That’s one thing I love about coaching this team. They have never really wavered from what we have to do to get better week in and week out and give us the opportunity to win football games.”

Sudden success such as this, though, can be damning, building a false confidence. That Campbell understands and fights against.

“More than anything confidence has to be earned,” Campbell said. “I think you earn the right to be confident and you earn the right to be proud. No one can give you that. That’s something that your work ethic and commitment allows you to earn it.”

From here on out, every game in this conference is going to matter and that is going to make for a nice November.