Oklahoma vs. West Virginia: Why This Game Will Be Closer Than Most Think

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent INovember 13, 2012

West Virginia has fallen hard the past four weeks from the No. 5 team in the country to an unranked Big 12 middle-of-the-pack type fighting for a bowl bid. 

Oklahoma is sitting at 7-2 on the season and shooting for an at-large bid into the BCS.

To do that it has to win-out, but pushing through West Virginia won’t be easy. This game is an early 10-point line to the Sooners, but it will be closer than most think. 

West Virginia is witnessing a Heisman performance from the quarterback position with Geno Smith tossing 31 touchdowns and only three interceptions this fall. He has completed 71.3 percent of his passes on the way to 3,041 passing yards. 

The Mountaineers are fielding the No. 5 pass offense and No. 11 scoring offense in the country. 

Receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin have helped shred defenses with the Mountaineers offense, leading to major impact seasons for themselves and Geno Smith. 

Oklahoma's secondary has been strong this year, but a weak Notre Dame passing attack had a strong showing in Norman, and Texas Tech lit the Sooners up for over 250 yards through the air. 

Geno Smith and his skill players are more talented than both of those groups. If there is a comparison to be made, however, it would be to Texas Tech.

West Virginia should be able to hit 300 passing yards. 

More important for West Virginia than passing yards will be ground production. The Mountaineers are only the No. 96 rushing team in the country, with limited ground production coming in all four losses.

Oklahoma is No. 61 against the run. 

In the early season wins, Andrew Buie and Shawne Alston combined to average over 20 carries a game. Buie also added three or more catches to the stat sheet. 

Alston has been nonexistent through the middle of the year, and Buie has been limited down the stretch. West Virginia has to make this game a shootout, using the backfield to help it get there. 

Even though the Mountaineers have been horrid on defense, the Sooners won't be able to keep up with the West Virginia offense. Landry Jones should have a huge day through the air, but look for the Mountaineers to find one or two key turnovers fall in their favor. 

Jones has thrown four interceptions in the past three games. All West Virginia needs is one key possession to tip in its favor to take the lead for good. 

Oklahoma has been on the winning end of one shootout this fall with this past Saturday’s win over Baylor. Oklahoma jumped to an early lead, but they allowed the Bears to climb back into the ballgame and almost push for a win. 

Baylor is a very explosive offense, but West Virginia showed in September that it can outscore the Bears when needed—the Mountaineers put up 70 points on Baylor. 

Oklahoma will be feeling the pressure in Morgantown when the Mountaineers stay toe-to-toe with them offensively to start the game, and Landry Jones has been known to force passes in the past, leading to miscues and turnovers. 

As long as West Virginia can produce through the air and find occasional success from the backfield, the Sooners will struggle. Oklahoma has not played well in pressure situations, and the Mountaineers will be bringing the offense full throttle early at home. 

This will be a turnaround game for the Dana Holgorsen-led Mountaineers.