The #5 Oklahoma Sooners will be looking to remain undefeated when they entertain the West Virginia Mountaineers at OU Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Kendall questionableAs the competition has heated up, West Virginia has struggled, falling to Texas (42-31) and Iowa State (38-14) at home in back-to-back weeks. The Mountaineers fell apart in the fourth quarter against the Cyclones last week, but they were doing it with a backup quarterback. Starter Austin Kendall (OU transfer) suffered a chest injury in the first series of the game and did not return. Junior Jack Allison came in and threw a pick-six and wound up with 140 yards passing (75%) in his first action of the season. Without their starting quarterback, West Virginia compiled just 190 yards of offense and was held to just 41 rushing yards on 28 carries.
The good news is that Kendall is returning for this game. The junior has had his troubles, tossing for seven picks with nine TDs this season (1,247 yards passing). But he also put up 367 yards against Texas (four picks). Redshirt freshman receiver Sam James is the top target with 37 catches for 359 yards with two scores.
It would help if the Mountaineers could establish a running game. They are averaging just 94.3 yards per game on the ground, which places them near the bottom of the nation. Defensively, they are allowing 383.8 yards per game overall and 207.7 yards in the air. The pass defense will have to bring their "A" game in this one.
Finally testedOklahoma is 6-0 and they passed their first big test when they took down Texas in the Red River Rivalry, 34-27. The Sooners never trailed in the game and allowed a late touchdown to make the score look a little closer (and lose the cover). Star quarterback Jalen Hurts was held to just 235 passing yards with three TDs and one pick, but made up for it with 131 rushing yards. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb had a huge game with 10 catches for 171 yards and three scores. The speedster now has 27 catches for 608 yards with 11 TDs combined on the season.
"Defensively, just was awesome," head coach Lincoln Riley commented. "We tackled well, covered them well. Obviously, we were able to get quite a bit of pressure on the quarterback which is probably the key to the game."
The biggest change for Oklahoma this season has been on the defensive end. With new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch taking over, OU ranks first in the conference in pass defense efficiency (122.9), second in passing defense (187.3 yards), scoring defense (21 points per game), and sacks per game (4.3) in Big 12 competition. They allowed just 310 total yards to a very good Texas offense, holding them to just 5.5 yards per passing play.
Hurts leads the offense with 1,756 passing yards with 17 TDs and just three picks (71.3%). He also has 630 rushing yards and eight TDs. The offense is averaging 621.7 yards per game overall to lead the nation and 335 yards per game in the air (5th).
The West Virginia Mountaineers are:
- 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games after gaining less than 275 yards in their previous game
- 3-0-1 ATS in their last four games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game
The Oklahoma Sooners are:
- 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight conference games
- 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss