After yielding 23 unanswered fourth quarter points at winless Baylor and barely holding on for a 38-36 victory, 22nd-ranked West Virginia’s defense now takes on the nation’s No. 1 offense as 12th-ranked Oklahoma State visits Morgantown on Saturday afternoon. The two schools, along with Oklahoma and Iowa State, are tied for second at 3-1 in the Big 12 behind unbeaten TCU (7-0, 4-0), and a loss will likely eliminate the loser from earning one of the two spots in the Big 12 title game.
There will be few secrets between the two teams when they take the field as West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen served as the offensive coordinator under Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy in 2010 when the Cowboys won the Big East and the Orange Bowl. “The series between us and them has been a fun one,” Holgorsen said this week. “We probably know as much about Oklahoma State as we do anybody on our schedule. Oklahoma State probably knows as much about us as anybody on our schedule, so our jobs as coaches is to put our guys in the best situation that we possibly can, which we will do this Saturday.” Oklahoma State comes into the contest averaging 584.6 yards per game which ranks No. 1 in the nation while West Virginia is fifth (539.4). “It’ll be a dogfight,” Gundy said. “They’re a very good team.”
TV: Noon, ET, ABC. LINE: Oklahoma State -7.5
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (6-1, 3-1 Big 12): The Cowboys come in off a 13-10 overtime scare at Texas, the first time this season they were held under 41 points in a game. Quarterback Mason Rudolph, who already owns 30 school records, leads the nation in passing yards (2,650) and passing yards per game (378.6), completing 161-of-242 attempts (66.5 percent) for 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. James Washington leads a deep wide receiver corps with 38 catches for 914 yards and six touchdowns while Justice Hill has rushed for 750 yards on 139 carries (5.4 avg.) and five TDs and has broken the 100-yard mark in four consecutive games. The defense, which held Texas to just 42 yards rushing, is led by linebackers Justin Phillips and Chad Whitener while safety Ramon Richards had the game-clinching interception in overtime at Texas to go along with six tackles.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (5-2, 3-1): In a conference that features legitimate Heisman Trophy contenders in Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Rudolph, Mountaineer QB Will Grier gets somewhat overlooked. The Florida transfer ranks fourth nationally in passing yards per game (352.4) and fifth in passing efficiency (172.3) and leads the nation with 26 touchdown passes against five interceptions. Wide receiver David Sills V, once a highly touted prep quarterback prospect himself, leads the nation with 15 touchdown receptions while Justin Crawford ranks third in the Big 12 in rushing with 639 yards to go along with seven touchdowns.
1. The series is tied 4-4 with Gundy holding a 3-2 edge in matchups against Holgorsen.
2. Washington leads the nation with an average of 24.1 yards per catch and his 32 career receiving touchdowns is tops among all active FBS players.
3. Oklahoma State ranks third nationally in scoring offense (43.7 points) while West Virginia is fourth (43.3).
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 41, West Virginia 31