College Football Pick
Earlier in the season it was looking like a year without a Big 12 team in the College Football Playoff. But after last weekend’s upsets, the possibility of either Oklahoma or West Virginia entering the conversation is increasing. The winner of this Game will have a decent shot of winning the conference. The Sooners were early -3 point road favorites.
The Sooners started slow with two losses in their first three Games, but now sit atop the Big 12 without a loss in Conference play. While they are undefeated in the Big 12, they’ve had a lot of close Games, which could come into play here. They won by six at TCU, by seven at Texas Tech, by 10 at Iowa State and by five against Texas at a neutral site. Of course, they won those Games, but West Virginia is arguably better than all those teams.
The Mountaineers had a shot of being undefeated, but had a turnover issue at Oklahoma State a couple Games ago and picked up their first loss. This is still a team that has plenty of impressive wins led by the conference’s best defense. Back at home, this may be West Virginia’s last real test of the season.
It’s hard to look at last year’s matchup too much. These teams were much different a year ago when Oklahoma won 44-24 at home. For starters, Oklahoma’s defense is worse, while WVU QB Skyler Howard is a tad more experienced.
Howard tossed three interceptions in that loss and that has been West Virginia’s only real problem this season. Howard has thrown nine picks in 2016, but five of those came in recent Games: the loss at OK State and last weekend in the win at Texas. It’s worth noting that both of those Games were on the road. If Howard is safe with the ball, the Mountaineers will be on track to getting this win because Oklahoma’s defense has been exploited by any decent offense this year, giving up more than 30 points per Game.
The one thing that can help this offense is a successful running Game. Freshman running back Kennedy McKoy took the lead last Game but only averaged 2.9 yards per carry. If the Mountaineers can’t get more than that out of McCoy or Rushel Shell or Justin Crawford, it’ll be tough on Howard.
The other end may be the more interesting matchup with the Oklahoma offense going against the best defense in the conference. The last time the Sooners played a defense this solid was in the loss to Ohio State.
This isn’t the same defense OU saw a year ago. The Mountaineers have held offenses like Texas Tech, TCU and Texas down to 20 points or less. Baker Mayfield and company are of course a tougher test, but it can’t be forgotten how this offense looked the last time they played a solid group. Mayfield completed just above 50% of his passes in that Game against the Buckeyes while throwing a couple picks. Finding room for Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine on the ground will be important, but it’s unlikely the two will go for 100 yards each like a week ago.
Oklahoma may be rated higher because their losses came earlier in the season, but with West Virginia playing at home in a prime time Game, it can’t be ignored how good this Mountaineers team has looked this season.
The Sooners are 1-4 ATS in their last five road Games and haven’t covered in their last five following an ATS win. The Mountaineers are 4-11 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Our Pick – West Virginia +3