Country Rooooads - Take me hooome - to the plaaaaace - I BELOOOONG...
Most Oklahoma State fans would tell you that they are more worried about the two games this matchup is sandwiched between, but I am here to tell you, “DON’T SCHLEEP ON DANA HOLGORSEN!”
Oklahoma State will be coming off a huge road win in Austin, TX (hehe) and will be looking to ride that momentum all the way to Morgantown, WV. However, the Mountaineers aren’t going to roll over just because the playoff dark horses are in town. Oh no no no, they are going to give Oklahoma State all that they can handle,
Oklahoma State Cowboys @ West Virginia Mountaineers
When: Saturday, October 28, Time TBA
Where: Mountaineer Field - Morgantown, WV
2016: 10-3 (7-2 Big 12)
Key Returners: Justin Crawford, Kyle Bosch, Dravon Askew-Henry (2015), Kyzir White
Key Departures: Skyler Howard, Shelton Gibson, Noble Nwachukwu, Rasul Douglas
It seems like everyone is talking about Oklahoma and Oklahoma State out of the Big 12, which shouldn’t bother West Virginia. Dana Holgorsen’s teams have always had a bit of a chip on their shoulders. The Mountaineers have been so gritty over the years that they make Big Cat and PFT Commenter seem like princesses. Like, seriously, their mascot is a just a dude in a ‘coon hat. Doesn’t get any grittier than that.
West Virginia has a running game unlike any other in the Big 12. Justin Crawford has been an incredible fit in the Holgorsen offense, and it looks like he is ready to improve on a really great 2016 season (7.3 yards per carry!) Kennedy McKoy will be backing up Crawford and he seems to be the future of that position in Morgantown. McKoy is a downhill runner who is really good in the pass game as well. Watching him kind of gave me a few young Joe Randle flashbacks. The Mountaineers also have a very reliable fullback in Elijah Wellan that they love to have on the field in key situations.
“Fullback?!” yells Mike Leach, simultaneously spitting out the remainder of his white russian at some bar in southeast Washington.
Pair the most dangerous running game in the Big 12 with Will Grier - yes, that Will Grier - and you have a pretty doggone good offense. Grier transferred to West Virginia after being suspended by the Florida Gators for buying and using an illegal performance drug from some muscle head at the local Gainesville GNC in 2015. (check out the full story here.) As a true freshman, Grier lead the Gators to a 6-0 start until he decided to start a mid-season cycle of Ligandrol. Good idea, William. The kid could really spin it though:
I think Grier could have a really, really good season in West Virginia. I’ll even venture to say he’ll have a better season than Baker Mayfield (looking eyes emoji)(OU sucks emoji).
Where West Virginia finds itself in a little hot water is the inexperience of their defense. They have two really good safeties in Kyzir White and Dravon Askew-Henry and an experienced mike linebacker, Al-Rasheed Benton, but the rest of the defense is relatively new. If the West Virginia defense is going to hold up, they are going to need a few newcomers to stand out.
The Oklahoma State defense went back to their old ways last September, forcing 3 turnovers from West Virginia QB, Skyler Howard. Even though the Mountaineers were running the ball all over our defense, they gave Mason Rudolph and Co. the ball with good field position a few times. The offense capitalized on those opportunities. James Washington had over 100 yards receiving and Chris Lacy caught two touchdowns.
This was West Virginia’s first loss of the season, moving to 6-1. The Cowboys improved their record to 6-2 after the win in Stillwater.
Player to Watch - Offense: Will Grier QB
I’m excited for the Will Grier comeback. I think that he will find a lot of success in 2017, and in particular, against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. We could be watching a classic shootout on October 28th. Expect Ramon Richards and Tre Flowers to be busy during this game.
Player to Watch - Defense: Dravon Askew-Henry DB
Askew-Henry suffered from a devastating knee injury last season, and it really hurt the West Virginia defense. Askew-Henry started every game as a freshman and sophomore for the Mountaineers, and after redshirting last season to recover, it’s likely that he will come back and play angry. He’s an NFL caliber safety and I expect Mason will be studying #6 on film a lot in the week leading up to this matchup.
The Bottom Line:
Offense, offense, offense. Both quarterbacks are going to be slingin’ it against two untested defenses. Oh, and Justice Hill and Justin Crawford = Daenerys and Dracarys. OSU and WVU defenses = Lannister Army. Because it’s not a sports blog unless you talk a little Game of Thrones. Both runningbacks should finish with 125+ yard games.
Alas, like most evenly matched football games, the winner will be the team that takes care of the ball the best. If Will Grier pulls a Skyler Howard, Oklahoma State will have too much firepower for the Mountaineers to keep up with.