LOCATION: Stillwater, Oklahoma
BETTING LINE: -4 West Virginia
West Virginia PLAYER TO WATCH
The undefeated Mountaineers have multiple players that could be considered Players to Watch as they head to Stillwater to face a defense that ranks in the bottom half of the Big 12 in total yards. That being said, Daikel Shorts gets the nod as West Virginia’s sure handed wide receiver looks to take advantage of the Cowboys secondary and continue a solid season with him averaging over 15 yards per reception thus far. Given that the line can give the receiver time to run his routes, he will get open deep for quarterback Skyler Howard. Look for Shorts to be Howard’s main target this weekend to keep the No. 10 Mountaineers climbing in the top 25.
Oklahoma State PLAYER TO WATCH
James Washington was shut down last week for only one reception and 9 yards vs Kansas. This week he looks to bounce back and continue his All-American campaign in the Pokes biggest game thus far. This week’s game may very well depend on his ability to beat the double coverage that he will certainly draw. If he can hurt them, even with the safety assistance, the rest of the offense should be able to flourish against a stout WVU defense. If he can’t find a way to be a factor in the game even with the defense keying on him, it could be tough for Oklahoma State to move the ball.
West Virginia POSITION GROUP PREVIEW
OFFENSIVE LINE: OSU only had 3 tackles for loss in their win against Kansas, however the Mountaineer offensive line cannot take them lightly. The Cowboys were averaging 3 sacks per game prior to the matchup with the Jayhawks. The West Virginia line must open holes for the running backs, and give Skyler Howard time to make good decisions.
TIGHT ENDS: The Mountaineers very rarely run a set with ends on the line. Look for tight ends to be used in the backfield if they see the field at all.
RUNNING BACKS: With Justin Crawford limited by injury, Rushel Shell stepped up big for the Mountaineers with a 117 yard game against the Horned Frogs. If Crawford is healthy look for the junior college transfer to continue to split carries with Shell, as the two average 68 and 77 yards per game, respectively.
QUARTERBACKS: A week removed from throwing for 4 touchdowns, look for Skyler Howard to continue his effectiveness through the air. Howard is known for extending plays with his legs and the matchup in Stillwater will showcase this. If the offensive line can create space, look for the mobile Howard to have a balanced attack with his legs and his arm.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Coming off a game that saw some spectacular catches, one for a touchdown by Ka’Raun White, and one that you had to see to believe by Jovon Durante, the Mountaineers wideouts must continue to limit dropped passes. Look for some big plays by Daikel Shorts and Shelton Gibson.
DEFENSIVE LINE: West Virginia’s defensive front can’t lose Mason Rudolph. He may not be much of a runner but they cannot afford to give him too much time to find his target.
LINEBACKERS: The linebackers David Long and Al-Rasheed Benton look to continue their solid seasons. Look for the two to have a solid game including 10 combined tackles and at least 1 sack.
SECONDARY: After accounting for one turnover against TCU, the Mountaineers must shut down the Cowboy’s receivers if they want to remain in the top 10 and keep their undefeated record unblemished.
SPECIAL TEAMS: West Virginia forced two turnovers on kick returns last weekend in Morgantown. Expect the Mountaineer coverage teams to keep up the intensity that they displayed against the Horned Frogs and continue their hard hitting ways.
COACHING:After jumping into the top 10, look for Dana Holgorsen to keep his team fired up in their pursuit of a College Football Playoff berth.
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
WVU comes into Stillwater this weekend looking to keep their unbeaten record and dreams of a playoff berth alive. Meanwhile OSU will be fired up trying to defend their home turf against former offensive coordinator Dana Holgorson on homecoming. This is WVU’s first big test of the year as they have yet to face a team nearly as complete as the Cowboys. Meanwhile, this could be a signature win this season for a Cowboys team thats had its peaks and valleys. The game will likely hinge on whoever establishes dominance in the trenches and can keep the ball moving on the ground. WVU will need to establish a run game against a deep and talented defensive line if they hope to open up the passing lanes for Skyler Howard. OSU meanwhile will need Mason Rudolph to step up early and make some throws into the secondary to open up the run and allow Justice Hill some space in between the tackles. Whichever team leads in rushing yards at the end of the game will likely win in what will likely be a relatively low scoring Big XII game.
Oklahoma State POSITION GROUP RATINGS
OFFENSIVE LINE: Justice Hill is moving the ball well, but they allowed 5 sacks against Kansas. They’re going to need to do a much better job of keeping Rudolph’s jersey clean.
TIGHT ENDS: The Cowboy’s backs are used as much as any other tight end group in the Big XII and could be a huge factor underneath if defenses keep doubling James Washington over the top.
RUNNING BACKS: Justice Hill is the leader for Big XII freshman of the year honors with multiple huge performances in conference play. After his best effort yet last week vs Kansas, he looks poised for stardom and could prove it this week against the best defense he has faced yet.
QUARTERBACKS: Rudolph has had some trouble getting the ball out of his hand in a timely fashion lately, but otherwise is turning in another exceptional year. Fully capable of taking over any game he plays in, the Pokes have a decisive quarterback advantage in this game.
WIDE RECEIVERS: James Washington is one of the best players in the Big 12 despite getting shut down vs Kansas last week. Jalen McClesky is looking to be a fantastic second option out of the slot in what is likely the best receiving corps in the Big 12.
DEFENSIVE LINE: The defensive tackle position is a huge strength for this team, but the defensive ends are going to need to step up and put more pressure on the quarterback.
LINEBACKERS: This is an average group whose biggest virtue is their health. They will need to improve in coverage to help out a weak secondary.
SECONDARY: Without Jordan Sterns they’re absolutely lost. With him they’re average with a propensity to improve as the game goes on. Ramon Richards in particular will need to step up and stop being so liable to the deep ball if they hope to compete.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Ben Grogan became the all-time leading scorer for the Pokes last week and Zach Sinor continues putting them in great field position.
COACHING: Glenn Spencer will need to step up and figure out how to slow down Dana Holgorson’s offense. Mike Yurscich will need to vastly improve his play calling from last week.