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Preview: Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia

It’s America’s Greatest Homecoming, y’all!

Pitt v Oklahoma State Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

When: Saturday, October 29th, 11:00am CST

Where: Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)

Watch: FOX

Listen: Cowboy Radio Network

Oklahoma State University vs. West Virginia University

The Greeks are pomping, the fountain is orange, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys are preparing for one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12, the West Virginia Mountaineers. This isn’t a cupcake homecoming game like we’ve come to expect in the past, the Mountaineers are looking like the best team in the Big 12 at the moment.

It’s not only homecoming for the Oklahoma State alumni, we are also welcoming back former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator, current West Virginia head coach, Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen was only in town for the 2010 season, but in that year, he became an OSU favorite. Holgorsen and the three-headed monster of Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Kendall Hunter took college football and the record books by storm.

In our last matchup with West Virginia, we won the ugliest game possible, 33-26. Mason Rudolph threw three interceptions, and was sacked in his own endzone for a safety. However, our defense and JW Walsh came to the rescue. Note: We may have won last year, but WVU beat us on homecoming in 2014, so they are not strangers to raining on our homecoming parade.

What to watch for: Oklahoma State

Iowa State v Oklahoma State Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images
  • Oklahoma State MUST start faster this week. Here are the halftime scores of the past two weeks for OSU:

ISU - 17 OSU - 14

KU - 13 OSU - 17

West Virginia is a lot better than our opponents of the last two weeks, and we cannot afford to start the game in a hole.

  • Another big game for Hill? Yurcich and the Oklahoma State offense showed us last week that they are confident enough to run the ball in heavy doses, and we will need a big game from Justice Hill if we want to win this game. The West Virginia defense only gives up 233 passing yards per game, so Rudolph and the receivers are going to have their hands full. A good outing by Hill should loosen the defense up, and give OSU a chance to score on this stout unit.
  • Let Washington make plays. This one is simple. James Washington, our most dangerous offensive weapon, had one catch last week against Kansas. Kansas was bracketing Washington with a corner underneath and a safety overtop at all times. Rudolph did a fine job of finding other options, but it’s clear that this offense is at it’s best when Washington is involved.

In order for James Washington to make some plays down the field, the offensive line needs to give their quarterback more time in the pocket, and Mason Rudolph needs to be more decisive with the ball. Our air raid offense had trouble living up to it’s style in the Kansas game, because Rudolph either had sticky hands, or he was running for his life. Oklahoma State is going to have to make this a top priority, as WVU will have defenders like Noble Nwachakwu pinning their ears back.

What to watch for: West Virginia

West Virginia v Texas Tech Photo by John Weast/Getty Images
  • Is WVU as good as their record shows?

Yup. Not only is their offense solid, they have a great defense as well. Do you remember what Texas Tech did to the OU defense last week? :) The West Virginia defense held Texas Tech to 17 points...

  • Special teams. If WVU does have a weak point, it is their kicking game. WVU kicker, Mike Molina is 100% in extra points, and 9 of 12 on the season, however that’s not really the issue. Leg strength has been a struggle for him. His longest field goal on the season is a 38 yarder, and he is 0 for 2 on kicks over 40 yards. I’m not sure the confidence is there from his coaching staff.

An interesting note from the KU OSU game; we were the last team in the NCAA to return a kickoff at least 25 yards... Our kick return team is going to be abnormally busy this week, as Molina doesn’t quite have the leg to get the ball into the endzone. It’ll be interesting to see how Oklahoma State handles returning kicks. TCU did not handle it well last week.

  • Howard-Shorts-Gibson-Shell. The WVU has some dangerous weapons on offense, and the Oklahoma State secondary hasn’t been stellar of late. If Howard is allowed to sit in a pressure free pocket all day, he will have a lot of success. Look for Shorts and Gibson to be targeted early and often.

Oklahoma State will win if...

they win the turnover battle. Field position will be important in a game against a good defense. Causing a few turnovers in good field position should bode well for the Cowboys.

West Virginia will win if...

The Oklahoma State defense allows Skyler Howard to sit in the pocket and pick our secondary apart. No pressure = No problem for the WVU offense.

Stats

Mason Rudolph - 2,259 yards / 14 TD’s / 2 INT’s

Justice Hill - 565 yards / 4 TD’s

James Washington - 740 yards / 6 TD’s

Jalen McCleskey - 536 yards / 4 TD’s

Skyler Howard - 1821 yards / 12 TD’s / 4 INT’s

Rushel Shell - 465 yards / 5 TD’s

Shelton Gibson - 501 yards / 3 TD’s

Daikiel Shorts - 492 yards / 3 TD’s

Total offense ranks (ypg) - OSU 31st / WVU 10th

Total passing ranks (ypg) - OSU 11th / WVU 20th

Total rushing ranks (ypg) - OSU 99th / WVU 37th

Prediction:

Sorry, Pokes. I haven’t predicted against us yet this season, but West Virginia’s defense is too strong for me to bet against. I’ll tell you what... If you guys beat WVU, I won’t bet against you for the rest of the season. Deal?

West Virginia, 36-28