2016 has been an incredible — albeit surprising — year for West Virginia’s football program. Very few of the school’s most diehard fans could have ever imagined seeing the boys from Morgantown go 6-0 and climb to the ranking of 9th in the Coaches Poll… But that’s exactly where they are going into the final weekend of October and the national football media are no longer able to pretend that WVU’s football team isn’t at least deserving of being in playoff conversations.
With that said, the Mountaineers will face a major obstacle this Saturday when they take the field at Boone Pickens Stadium before a barrage of +60,000 boos in Stillwater.
Below are 5 Things West Virginia Fans Should Know Going into the Oklahoma St. Game:
1. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor is Forecasting Oklahoma State to Win
No surprise here, the Mountaineers have been discounted all season long. Apparently a decisive road win against one of the most prolific offenses in the nation (Texas Tech), followed by a 34-10 victory over TCU isn’t that impressive to the pundits, talking heads, and computer generated predictions.
ESPN’s Matchup Predictor says that Oklahoma State has a 55.7% chance of winning this game.
2. Oklahoma State’s Quarterback is Good!
WVU quarterback Skyler Howard has been getting a lot of love in the Big XII for his gritty attitude and sheer toughness, but Rock Hill, South Carolina’s Mason Rudolph should not be overlooked.
October has been a great month for the 235 lb. junior, averaging 10 yards per pass and touting a completion percentage of 63.5%. If the Mountaineers hope to contain this kid, Tony Gibson’s defense is going to have to continue doing what they’ve done so well all season – put pressure on the quarterback — which may be an easy job, he’s been sacked 22 times already… compared to Howard only being sacked only 9 times this season.
3. The Number of Turnovers May Decide This Game
Last week, Oklahoma State forced three turnovers against Kansas and their defensive style is similar to West Virginia’s – they create confusion which results in sacks, interceptions or fumbles. For Oklahoma State, this is accomplished by dropping their lineman into coverage at the last moment, pressuring quarterbacks to make dumb decisions that often result in a turnover.
West Virginia will be OK State’s defense’s toughest challenge yet, as the Mountaineer offense is averaging only 0.75 turnovers per game this season.
Whichever group prevails: the OK St. defense or WVU offense will likely decide the outcome of this game… #DAWGS = Defense Always Wins Games
4. WVU Running Back Rushel Shell is on a Roll!
The past two weeks have been very good to Hopewell, Pennsylvania’s Rushel Shell – WVU’s senior running back. Number 7 has posted some incredible numbers against two formidable foes, rushing for 104 yards on the road against Texas Tech and then racking up 117 yards against Texas Christian University last week… Tack on an average 17.5 yards per catch from the TCU game and this man will be a guy to watch on Saturday.
Oklahoma State’s defense has struggled in defending against the rush all season, so this weekend may be more of the same for Rushel Shell.
5. Oklahoma St. will be WVU’s Toughest Test of The Season… To Date.
The key to the above statement may be found in the last two words, “To Date.” Mountaineer fans have been begging for the nation’s respect for some time, now West Virginia has the world’s attention. Getting to number nine in the country hasn’t been easy for the Mountain State – they squeaked out of the Redskins’s stadium with a 35-32 victory against BYU and then managed to pull a rabbit out of their hat the following game with a 17-16 win over Kansas State.
Granted, the Mountaineers have been steadily improving each week, but West Virginia will be going into a hostile environment this Saturday for only the second time since December 6, 2015… Let that thought sink in for a moment!
Oklahoma State is on a three-game winning streak and matches up well against the Eers on both offense and defense and even if West Virginia can get out of Stillwater with their perfect schedule intact, the days ahead ain’t gonna be any easier.
Up to this point, West Virginia has had it easy, the month of November will prove whether they’re for real or not… if they can make it to November.
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