After losing a heart-breaker last week to TCU, the West Virginia University Football Team (5-3, 2-3) makes its way back to the midwest to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-3, 3-2) in Stillwater.
Head Coach Dana Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State back in 2010 before coming to West Virginia. Defensive Coordinator Joe DeForest spent the last 11 seasons at OSU, serving as the associate head coach, safeties coach and special teams coach. This is a bit of a homecoming for the WVU coaching staff.
The Mountaineers have had a tough time getting their 6th win that would make them bowl eligible. They have not won a game since they defeated Texas on October 6th.
For Oklahoma State, they have continued to have one of the most potent offenses in the nation. They have battled quarterback injuries all season, but have found a way to produce anyway. However, they fell victim to Collin Klein and Kansas State [like everyone else] last week.
Geno Smith and the WVU offense did look better last week against TCU than they had in the previous two contests. Shawne Alston finally returned after missing the previous four games, but was still limited with a deep thigh bruise. Stedman Bailey is day-to-day but is expected to play this Saturday.
The Cowboys' defense has allowed just 15.3 points per game over their last four games. They are giving up 377.5 total yards per game this season, 49th in the country. They are also 65th in pass defense (241.9 yards per game) and 37th in rush defense (135.5 per game). Last year, they made a living off of forcing turnovers, but have struggled in that department this season.
"They run about what you see from all of the Big 12 schools [defensively]," Offensive Coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "Schematically, they do what they do. They haven't changed schematically in a while and so the bottom line is their program is similar to ours on both sides of the ball really. There's going to be no secrets going into the game. There was no secrets going into last week's game or any week. It just comes down to execution so we have to be fired up to play the game and we have to play with a little bit more fire and desire than we've been playing with."
Oklahoma State seems to just plug in quarterbacks and they don't falter. First it was Zac Robinson, then it was Brandon Weeden, now just take your pick. Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf have all played well when given the chance in 2012. Walsh is out for the year, so it is up in the air who will play against WVU this Saturday between Lunt and Chelf.
Combined, the three quarterbacks have put OSU 3rd in the nation in passing yards per game at 355.9. This is a scary proposition for a WVU defense that remains dead last in FBS in passing yards allowed at 350 per game.
The biggest playmaker on the Cowboy offense is running back Joseph Randle. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He has ran for 934 yards and nine touchdowns so far this season.
"I think we're evenly matched talent wise," Joe DeForest said. "I think we do the same things. I think the bottom line is effort and turnovers. Who's going to give the most effort during the game? Who's going to be the most physical? And who's going to create turnovers? After that, the scheme doesn't matter, it is all about effort and creating turnovers."
This will be the 4th time both schools have faced each other with WVU holding the slight advantage at 2-1. The last time the two played was in the 1987 Sun Bowl, which was also the only OSU victory.
The weather for Stillwater on Saturday is a high of 76 with a chance for some severe thunderstorms.
The game will be at 3:30 ET and will be aired on an ABC/ESPN2 reverse mirror.