The country roads of West Virginia lead to the red dirt roads of Stillwater as the Mountaineers travel to Oklahoma to continue their route through the Big 12. What's that travel bill like anyway? And do they send it to Missouri every month? I digress. In any case, the Fighting Dana's have made quite the addition to the conference. After dismantling Baylor, the 'Eers will be riding high as they return to Boone Pickens Stadium.
The WVU defense has adopted the ol' OSU adage of "bend, don't break" defense. Neither near misses with Alabama and Oklahoma nor weird times in Lubbock have really phased the Mountaineers. They have stayed rather consistent, all things considered, and are especially good at shutting down the passing game (penalty fiascoes not withstanding). The 'Eer D has only allowed eight throwing touchdowns to opponents all year, with an average of 215 yards allowed per game. They have nabbed four interceptions while also breaking up 20 passes with a few rattling hits on the opposing quarterback.
The rush defense is no cake walk either, but while the Mountaineers have allowed an opponent average of 167.3 rushing yards per game, they have also given up 11 touchdowns. (This is where I'd insert a weekly reminder about the necessity of getting the ball to Tyreek Hill in space.) Essentially, most WVU opposition throw down field until they make it to within striking distance of the endzone, then punch it in with a run. (This is where I'd insert a plea to NOT throw any red zone fades.)
The 'Eers defense is lead by 6'2" 236lbs redshirt junior Nick Kwiatkoski, who has gathered 55 tackles, including nine TFL for 18 yards. Kwiatkoski has a narrow lead off of 5'11" safety Karl Joseph, 52 tackles with two TLF for five yards.
But wait, there's more!
The next four defensive leaders, Wes Tonkery, Brandon Golson, Daryl Worley and KJ Dillon, have combined for 114 tackles with 15.5 TFL for 65 yards. In fact, the entire defensive unit has equaled the sum of opponents TFL at 47 with 168 total yards lost. For further reference, the sum of opponents tackles for lost yardage is 188.
In short, Oklahoma State will need to rely on a healthy dose of colorful play calling. Mix it up, a pass here, Freek in space there, maybe a flea-flicker to entertain Dana on the opposite sideline. But the Mountaineer defense will be there, waiting for its opportunity to strike. And if the Pokes aren't careful, the 80,000+ people in town for Homecoming will be packing the Strip to drown their sorrows in Limeys and good company.