Preview: Oklahoma at West Virginia
Less than one week after losing whatever chance it had to make the College Football Playoff, West Virginia can strike a similar blow to Oklahoma by beating the Sooners for the first time since becoming conference rivals in 2012. The 12th-ranked Mountaineers will attempt to end their recent struggles against No. 6 Oklahoma when the two meet in Morgantown, W. Va. on Friday in what likely amounts to a Big 12 Championship play-in game.
West Virginia surrendered a go-ahead touchdown with 42 seconds remaining last weekend to drop a 45-41 decision at Oklahoma State, falling into a second-place tie with Texas in the conference standings. The Mountaineers and Longhorns still control their destiny in regards to the conference title game, however, as a West Virginia victory against the Sooners would forge a three-way tie for first – in the likely event Texas beats Kansas earlier in the day – and send them to Arlington, Tex. due to head-to-head wins over Oklahoma. The Sooners only need to post their seventh consecutive win over the Mountaineers to assure themselves of a spot in the Big 12 Championship and keep their hopes of receiving a second straight College Football Playoff invitation alive. Oklahoma is coming off an uninspiring 55-40 home victory over the three-win Jayhawks, allowing 524 yards to an offense that had not gained more than 368 during conference play.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Oklahoma -1.5.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (10-1, 7-1 Big 12): Heisman Trophy hopeful Kyler Murray is still on pace to become the first FBS player ever to average at least 300 passing yards and 60 rushing yards for an entire season, despite throwing for 272 and rushing for 99 while also accounting for five touchdowns versus the Jayhawks. After leading rusher Trey Sirmon (851 rushing yards) was injured on his first carry of the game, freshman Kennedy Brooks (811) took over for a second straight outing, running for a season-high 171 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Marquise Brown recorded 65 receiving yards against Kansas to push him over 1,000 for the second straight season; his 2,116 receiving yards are the most ever for a Sooner through his first 24 career games.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (8-2, 6-2): Heisman Trophy candidate Will Grier threw for 364 yards versus the Cowboys to post his school-record 18th career 300-yard passing game and boosted his career completion total to 484, passing Oliver Luck (1978-81) for fifth place in program history. Kennedy McKoy ran for a career-high 148 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, scoring two touchdowns in the second straight game and becoming the third Mountaineer to run for at least 100 yards in a game this season. Senior receiver David Sills V caught at least one touchdown pass for a sixth straight contest and is tied for second in FBS with a Big-12 best 13 receiving scores; his 33 career TD receptions rank as the third most in school history.
1. Oklahoma has won 19 consecutive true road games – 11 more than the next-longest active streak in FBS.
2. Sills (13) and Gary Jennings Jr. (11) are the only pair of teammates in FBS with at least 10 receiving touchdowns.
3. The Sooners are the only team the Mountaineers have not beaten since joining the Big 12.