The Oklahoma Sooners (7-2, 5-1) will continue to push towards a BCS at-large berth on Saturday, traveling to Morgantown, W. Va., to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4).
Oklahoma's two season losses have come to two teams currently in the top three spots of the BCS rankings, while West Virginia is on a four-game skid that started with losing to No. 1 Kansas State a few weeks back.
For Oklahoma, anything less than a convincing win could put doubt in the minds of voters and committee members of the four BCS games. Bob Stoops's team needs to aim for a Top 10 BCS ranking at the end of the season to leave little in doubt.
Geno Smith and West Virginia, once national darlings after a quick 5-0 start, have dropped four straight and appear out of answers on defense. The Mountaineers lost again to Oklahoma State in Week 11, and need just one win to secure bowl eligibility.
Here's a complete primer for this Big 12 matchup in Week 12.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Mountaineer Field; Morgantown, W.Va.
Spread: Oklahoma -11 (according to Bovada)
The Sooners should be a lock to cover this weekend if you go on trends that West Virginia has this season. The Mountaineers aren't a good bet and haven't been since the 70-63 win over the Baylor Bears.
Take Oklahoma, who has much more to lose than West Virginia. Landry Jones has just three games to cement his final legacy at the school, and a big win like this means more to OU than it will West Virginia this season.
Over/Under: 74 (according to Vegas Insider)
Surprisingly, I'm taking the under this week. Oklahoma's defense has been quite good, and despite giving up over 200 yards rushing at 34 points to Baylor last week, they actually had a good game plan for the passing attack.
It's a game plan they'll employ against Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Smith's passing attack. It won't keep West Virginia off the board, but it will slow down these speedy slot guys enough to take advantage of the country's fourth worst defense in points allowed (41.4).
OL Adam Shead -Probable (Leg)
OL Bronson Irwin - Probable (Ankle)
OL Lane Johnson - Probable (Ankle)
No new injuries to report at this time.
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Oklahoma is fighting Clemson and a slew of SEC teams for those final spots in the Top 10 of the BCS rankings. It isn't a certainty that they'll need to finish the season there to claim an at-large bid, but it would sure help.
Additionally, Oklahoma can't afford to leave anything Kansas State does to chance. If the Wildcats drop two games, Oklahoma could be in line for an automatic Fiesta Bowl bid. You can't leave anything to chance in college football.
Key to Oklahoma Win: Force Turnovers
It's no secret that Smith (three INTs all year) is a prolific passer and one of the nation's best. Kansas State and Texas Tech had added success against West Virginia by forcing Smith into turnovers early in the game.
With the way the defense has played in Morgantown, Smith has to play a nearly perfect game to keep his defense in positions to win. If the game is close late, who knows, but if Oklahoma is able to get more than a possession lead, it could be curtains early for Smith and this reeling West Virginia squad.
Key to West Virginia Win: Get in Landry Jones's head early
It's no secret that Jones hasn't always performed well in big games. He struggles with pressure directly in his face, and one interception can quickly turn into two or three for the senior QB.
For West Virginia to have a chance, Jones will need to see different coverages, pressure in his face and some bounces need to go the Mountaineers way.
Oklahoma is dealing with some health issues along the offensive line. West Virginia can capitalize by creating pressure in the middle, something Jones hasn't dealt with successfully over the course of his college career.
The defense lets West Virginia down again, but it's Blake Bell with two rushing touchdowns who is the key player for the Sooners. BCS dreams live on in Norman.
Oklahoma 38, West Virginia 24
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team and a syndicated writer on the site.
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