America’s Greatest Homecoming will reach it’s apex Saturday morning, as the undefeated Fighting Dana Holgorsen’s invade Stillwater in a must win game for the Cowboys.
If Oklahoma State wants to compete for a Big 12 championship, they cannot drop their second conference game by October.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, this is a winnable game.
Don’t get me wrong; this is the best team West Virginia has put together since entering the Big 12. Skyler Howard is quietly having himself a solid senior season, and the West Virginia defense may be the best in the conference.
Oklahoma State will need their best performance of the season to knock off the 10th ranked Mountaineers, but Boone Pickens Stadium should be really rocking for the first time this season. If the Cowboys play to their potential, Stillwater will be the happiest place in the United States — not that it isn’t already.
But if the Cowboys come out like they did against Central Michigan or Iowa State, Homecoming is going to be a real bummer. Let’s look at the best and worst case scenarios for today’s game.
Oklahoma State is going to come out firing on all cylinders, and will attack the West Virginia secondary with vertical passing. Mason Rudolph looks comfortable and poised, and reconnects with James Washington after last week’s absence.
Justice Hill rushes for over 100 yards for the fourth time in five weeks, but everyone is most impressed by the offensive line.
The defense does what Oklahoma State defenses usually do best, and that is create turnovers. Skyler Howard hasn’t thrown an interception since the first day in October, but if you remember correctly from last year, he played poorly for most of that game. This time he will be in a playing in front of a boisterous crowd, and that alone throws his game off.
Let’s not forget that West Virginia has played some close games against some average teams. They beat BYU (4-4) by a field goal in a “neutral” site in Washington D.C., and beat Kansas State (4-3) by one point. Playing in Manhattan is tough, but this game was in Morgantown on the Mountaineers’ homecoming game. You can bet the Cowboys are going to be more motivated for their homecoming game.
As stated before, West Virginia is for real.
If the Mountaineers can escape Stillwater with a win, they have the easiest schedule to a Big 12 title. Obviously they will need to beat Oklahoma and Baylor, but they have both of those games at home. The toughest road game left after today is Texas. I hate Texas.
And it’s not as if West Virginia is going to be intimidated by BPS; last time they were here they won 34-7.
No, Daxx Garman will not be leading the Cowboys today, but the Mountaineers have the defense to reduce Rudolph to only a slightly better Garman.
In the last two weeks, West Virginia has held Texas Tech and TCU to a combined 27 points. The combined margin of victory in those two games was 55 points.
Another thing that should frighten Oklahoma State fans is how the OSU defense has made average to below average quarterbacks look like Heisman candidates.
I’m sure Montell Cozart and Joel Lanning are going to finish with stellar seasons, but Skyler Howard actually is on pace for a really good season.
So far, Howard has thrown 12 touchdowns for 1,821 yards to four interceptions. For comparison, Rudolph has thrown for 2,259 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Rudolph is clearly the better quarterback on paper and in person, but it’s not as if Howard is too far behind.
But that’s as much as I’m going to oversell West Virginia, because I believe Oklahoma State is going to win. The West Virginia offense is good, but not that good on a Big 12 scale.
The defense is definitely better than what the average Big 12 team has, but the Mountaineers have not faced an offense like Oklahoma State. Yes, holding Tech to 17 points is impressive consider what we they did against Oklahoma last week. But Tech is predictable and one-dimensional; Oklahoma State will not be.
I believe the hype of homecoming is going to give Oklahoma State all the energy they need in order to “upset” West Virginia, and get back in the Big 12 race. Especially since Texas is going to beat Baylor today as well.