Spot in Big 12 title game on line for WVU, Sooners
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — No. 6 Oklahoma against No. 12 West Virginia gives Heisman Trophy hopefuls Kyler Murray and Will Grier the chance to make perhaps one final impression.
The Big 12’s top two scoring offenses will battle Friday night for the right to go to next week’s Big 12 championship game. There could be a rematch next week depending on how other games play out.
The Sooners (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, No. 6 CFP) are chasing their third straight title along with a berth in the College Football Playoff but might need at least one team ahead of them to lose.
Oklahoma is the only team West Virginia (8-2, 6-2, No. 13 CFP) hasn’t defeated since joining the league in 2012. The Mountaineers also haven’t gone a full season unbeaten at home since 2009.
Top the Sooners on Friday night, and they will accomplish both along with another first: playing for a Big 12 title.
“It’d mean a lot. This is a big game,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Our guys feel like we’re ready for it. They’ve whipped us before. But I feel like this is the best team that we’ve had.”
West Virginia’s Tony Gibson compares being a defensive coordinator in the Big 12 to “drinking water out of a fire hose.” And there will be plenty of worries with Oklahoma’s explosive offense.
The Sooners have surpassed 290 rushing yards in five straight games. Murray is dangerous as a passer (3,310 yards, 34 TDs) and a runner (739 yards, 10 TDs). Murray played the first series against the Mountaineers last year in place of Baker Mayfield. On the first play from scrimmage, Murray took off on a 66-yard run.
Oklahoma’s weakness is its defense. The Sooners have allowed at least 40 points over the past three weeks. That includes 524 yards allowed last week to Kansas, which has one of the league’s worst offenses.
Yet Oklahoma has won five straight since a 48-45 loss to Texas.
Two of West Virginia’s last three games have been decided in the final seconds.
“Listen, we know the challenge,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “It’s kind of a perfect script for us, going and playing on the road, tough environment, good football team, lot of things on the line. That’s just the way we like it.”
Based on past performances in Morgantown, it might take 1,000 yards of offense to decide this game.
The teams combined for 1,440 yards in 2012 when Landry Jones and Oklahoma won 50-49, 1,013 yards in 2014 in a 45-33 Sooners win, and 1,064 two years ago in Oklahoma’s 56-28 victory.
The winner will clinch a berth in the Dec. 1 league championship game in Arlington, Texas. If the Sooners lose, they will get the second spot if No. 11 Texas loses at Kansas. West Virginia gets the second spot with a loss only if Texas loses and No. 25 Iowa State loses at home to Kansas State. Texas is in with a win over the Jayhawks.