When I tell you my biggest concern is West Virginia's defense....I'm not lying.
Not making that up...not trying to be funny...no tongue in cheek...no sarcasm.
As we look at the 'Eers, the first thing to throw out are games 1 and 3. Gonna take a good look at games 2 & 4.
Bye bye William & Mary and Georgia State (both wins). Let's open the books on OU and Maryland (both losses).
Sample size is small, but the numbers are pretty straightforward.
Seven total points on offense.
On defense, 53 points allowed (16 vs OU...37 vs Maryland).
Offense has given up 10 turnovers in these two losses. The Sooners obliged with 4 of their own, or that score wouldn't have been nearly that close. While OU struggled in amassing just over 100 yards passing, the ground game racked up over 300 yards.
The West Virginia defense only gave up 323 total yards to Maryland, but 6 turnovers repeatedly gave the Terrapins a short field. Maryland cooperated a little with 2 turnovers of their own, but the Mountaineers couldn't take advantage.
Fifteen penalties for 125 yards.
Third down conversions...5-25 (20%)
Passing...32-64 for 280 yds, with no TD's and 3 INT's.
Mountaineers running a -4 TO margin in the two losses.
Out of 26 drives (not counting short end of half possessions), WV has only two that lasted longer than 6 plays. Only 6 of those possessions covered more than 23 yards.
If West Virginia can eliminate mistakes, this will not be an "easy" game for OSU, but they should still prevail in the range of 35-10. Remember, OU had over 400 yards of total offense, but had 4 TO's, one of those an interception in the end zone.
Juxtapose that with Maryland...the Terrapins scored just 9 points on sustained drives in the first half. They posted 21 points on two short field TD's and one pick 6. I'm still not sold on Maryland.
Dreamius Smith (Jr) and Charles Sims (Sr) are capable running backs, averaging over 7 yds/c together. Smith is the HR hitter, with a 75 yd TD vs OU and a 51 yd run against Maryland. However, if you take those two rushes out of the equation, then the avg/carry drops to a much more modest 3.7.
Of the 32 completions, only two receivers have receptions of 20+ yards in the two losses. Kevin White appeared to be a viable target with 7 receptions for 80 yards against OU, but didn't record a catch against Maryland. RB Charles Sims had 8 of the Mountaineers 11 catches against Maryland.
Overall, this feels like a weird game. On the road against an offense that has looked horrible against FBS level defenses, and clearly lacks solid QB play. The offensive line has struggled, which is bad news with Barnett and Castleman coming to town. The defense has been ok, but did allow over 300 yards rushing to OU.
Conditions should be perfect for the game so weather is not an issue. If West Virginia comes out like a wounded animal backed into a corner, then they could make a fight of this for a half. If they don't, then OSU might cause the scoreboard to "tilt," and Dana may need to start circling the wagons.
As long as OSU takes care of business (and the ball), they get the W sans any crazy shit from Squinky.