No. 11 Oklahoma looking to stay sharp vs. West Virginia
Entering Saturday’s game at West Virginia, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, at least publicly, isn’t looking with an eye ahead to the Big 12 Championship Game.
The No. 11 Sooners were supposed to have a bye this week, but two weeks ago, COVID-19 issues with Oklahoma forced their game against the Mountaineers to be postponed, so the teams will give it another try this week.
Coming off a 27-14 win over Baylor that clinched a spot in the title game, Riley said the focus is getting his team back in a rhythm following their shutdown two weeks ago. Against Baylor, the Sooners’ defense played well but the offense was uncharacteristically sluggish.
“We’ve had so many bye weeks,” Riley said. “Having the facilities shut down that long in the middle of the season was a different deal. Just for us to play the quality of ball and to make the improvements that we need to make, we need to play.”
West Virginia is coming off a 42-6 loss to Iowa State, the first blowout loss of the season for the Mountaineers (5-4 overall, 4-4 Big 12).
“Really this week it’s about us getting back on track and playing football like we have in the previous eight games,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said.
West Virginia has yet to lose a home game this year, going 5-0 at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Both teams figure to be well-prepared for each other. The Sooners had a half week of preparation in late November before the originally scheduled game was wiped out on the Wednesday before the game.
The Mountaineers had even more time, with a bye week scheduled a week before the Nov. 28 game.
“They’re probably tired of working on Oklahoma,” Riley said. “Is it one of those deals where you’re not starting over? Certainly. … It’s certainly not like we were starting over on a brand-new team this Monday for the players and coaches. It’s still busy as a normal week, but it definitely doesn’t feel quite as new.”
Oklahoma (7-2, 6-2) has won all eight meetings with the Mountaineers since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012.
There has been plenty of offense in this series. With the exception of a 16-7 win in 2013, the Sooners have scored at least 44 points in each of those meetings, while the Mountaineers have averaged better than 30 points.
But with West Virginia leading the Big 12 in total defense and scoring defense, and Oklahoma second in total defense and third in scoring, this game could be lower scoring.
Last season, the Sooners won 52-14.
Even coming off last week’s blowout, Mountaineers linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said his team was more confident this season.
“This year, I feel that we have established an identity,” Chandler-Semedo said. “We know exactly what we are capable of doing. We have seen the film. They have seen us. Best on best, at the end of the day that’s what it is.”
–Field Level Media