AT WEST VIRGINIA
With a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game on the line, this game will feature all the offense you could ask for.
The winner of this game earns a spot in the conference title game, while the loser will not – unless Kansas upsets Texas this week. If West Virginia and Kansas win, the Big 12 Championship would be a rematch of this game. If Oklahoma and Texas win, the Red River Rivalry would be replayed for the conference crown.
But back to this matchup, the Sooners enter the game with College Football Playoff hopes. Oklahoma enters the matchup 10-1 and No. 6 in the latest CFP Poll. The Sooners may need some chaos in front of them to break into the top four, but there isn’t a better offense than OU’s in the country.
West Virginia was knocking on the playoff door up until a week ago, when the Mountaineers fell to Oklahoma State, 45-41. WVU dropped to No. 13 in the latest CFP rankings, but with a win could still make their way to the conference championship.
This game pits two of the top offensive attacks against each other. Oklahoma and West Virginia are two of the ten teams nationally that average more than 500 yards of offense per game. Oklahoma is No. 1 in the country, averaging 576.1 yards per game, while West Virginia is 10th at 502 yards each game.
Oklahoma is on pace to set an NCAA record with a staggering 8.8 yards per play. The Sooners are the only team in the country with at least 30 rushing touchdowns (36) and 30 passing touchdowns (36). The Mountaineers have scored on more than half their drives this season (63-of-121).
The best battle of this game will be between the quarterbacks. WVU’s senior Will Grier and OU’s junior Kyler Murray are among the nation’s best passers and both could end up as Heisman Trophy finalists. Murray leads the Big 12 in total offense with 368.1 yards per game, while Grier leads the conference in passing yards per game with 332.5. Murray holds the edge in the ground game, averaging 67.2 yards per game rushing, while Grier has a slight lead in touchdown passes, with 3.3 per game.
With both offenses nearly unstoppable, the game may come down to which defense can bend, but not break. That has been the mantra of the Mountaineers on defense this season, as they rank No. 2 in the Big 12 in scoring defense, rushing defense, interceptions and opponent third down percentage, all while allowing 380 yards per game, 55th nationally. Oklahoma’s defense improved in the two weeks immediately following the firing of former defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, but the problems on defense haven’t been solved. Over the last three games, the Sooners have allowed 40 or more points to Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas.
This is a can’t-miss type of game where the offenses will trade blows back-and-forth. It could be the Heisman-moment for either Murray or Grier, who will lead their team down the field in the waning moments of an already huge statistical game. It has all the makings of the repeat of a 2016 Big 12 game between Oklahoma and Texas Tech, when the two offenses combined for 125 points and an NCAA Division I record 1,708 yards of offense. The numbers may not be that high, but they’ll be close.