When fourth-ranked Oklahoma opens Big 12 Conference play Saturday with a trip to rowdy West Virginia, coach Bob Stoops and the Sooners will be looking to follow the same blueprint from a season ago to keep the potent Mountaineers offense and their fans at bay. Oklahoma ran for 316 yards and possessed the ball for 34 minutes, holding the fast-paced, dynamic Mountaineers to their lowest point total since the 2010 finale in the 16-7 victory. “A very hostile and rude environment,” said Sooners receiver Durron Neal, who played in the 50-49 win in Morgantown in 2012. “Very disrespectful fan base. They’re going to be prepared to say some nasty, mean things."
West Virginia will be more formidable this season with the much-improved Clint Trickett, who is completing 75 percent of his passes for 1,224 yards with seven touchdowns against one interception. "The rapport between Clint and the receivers is much better than last season, and the offensive line is protecting better," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We're just in a much better place than last season." The Sooners' defense, however, which led the Big 12 in total defense last season, will provide a stern challenge.
TV: 7:30 ET, FOX. LINE: Oklahoma –8
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (3-0): The Sooners enter with a seven-game winning streak – the second-longest active run in FBS – but will be forced to execute the gameplan without the injured Keith Ford (fractured fibula against Tennessee) and his team-high 194 yards and six TDs. Freshman Samaje Perine and Alex Ross will see the majority of the action in the backfield, but quarterback Trevor Knight - who threw for 308 yards in a 34-10 victory over Tennessee last week -and Sterling Shepard - who has recorded 286 receiving yards the last two weeks - could play bigger roles. The Sooners defense has held each of its first three opponents under 18 points for the first time in five years, recorded five sacks against Tennessee and ranks third in FBS with six interceptions.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (2-1): The Mountaineers snapped the ball a school-record 108 times last week in a 40-37 triumph over Maryland, with Trickett passing for 511 yards - second-most in school history - and four TDs, but West Virginia lost the turnover battle, committed three errors on special teams and converted just 2-of-5 trips into the red zone. West Virginia managed just 65 plays in the loss to Oklahoma last year, but Trickett was the backup then and did not play. The Mountaineers can't stop the run, yielding 451 yards and six per carry against their two FBS foes, and recorded just six sacks while forcing only two turnovers.
EXTRA POINTS1. West Virginia CB Daryl Worley, who has made 17 tackles and two interceptions this season, has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules and will not play. 2. In eight career starts, Knight has completed 59 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. 3. The Sooners have outscored their opponents 55-0 in the first quarter this season.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 35, West Virginia 21