After a weird start to the season, Oklahoma is once again the best team in the Big 12 and it’s hard to question it. Iowa State has looked impressive, but after the Sooners took down OK State, no one wants to go against them.
With the conference title game on their mind, they opened as -10.5 point road favorites with an over/under of 55 against West Virginia.
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Oklahoma got a couple bad games out of its system early and has since been close to unstoppable, culminating in last week’s 41-13 win against OK State.
Sooners Defense Improved?
Almost out of nowhere, their defense has become good, limiting the Cowboys to just 4.2 yards per pass and 2.8 yards per rush. Throw in what has remained a dominant offense and all signs point to the Sooners edging toward another Big 12 title.
West Virginia has tried to survive by its defense, but that’s not enough in this conference, as seen in losses to Texas Tech and Texas.
Sometimes, a good defense won’t do the job against better offenses and even when it does, an inconsistent WVU offense makes things even harder.
Oddly, West Virginia’s offense may be the biggest question in this matchup unless Oklahoma’s defense reverts to early-season form. The Mountaineers have been fine, averaging 29.4 points per game, but a lot of those numbers are juiced because of big games against bad opponents (Eastern Kentucky, Kansas).
Jarrett Doege is averaging more than 300 yards per game, but he’s averaging 7.2 yards per attempt to go with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s moving the ball, but he’s not finding the end zone enough despite having a talented receiving corps as four different guys have at least 23 receptions.
Running Game Key for WV
They’ll try and lean on running back Leddie Brown in this matchup in order to keep OU’s offense off the field. That could work, as Brown is averaging 5.4 yards per carry with nine touchdowns, but Oklahoma’s rush defense has been its lone constant this season, allowing 3.2 yards per carry and 96 rushing yards per contest.
While West Virginia may have the best defense in the conference, allowing 274 yards and 17.8 points per game, it’s hard to bet on that against OU’s offense. As seen against OK State, it doesn’t really matter how good of a defense you have against Oklahoma because Lincoln Riley’s teams will always score.
Spencer Rattler Leads Sooners
Quarterback Spencer Rattler is slowing figuring things out and had one of his more efficient games of the season last week, totaling five touchdowns. On the season, he’s averaging 10.0 yards per attempt for 22 touchdowns and six picks along with four rushing touchdowns.
More importantly, he’s thrown one interception in the last four games. He doesn’t have a favorite target with four guys between 20 and 28 receptions. Charleston Rambo was supposed to be the guy this season, but he’s oddly the one with 20 receptions.
Helping Rattler on the ground is a trio of backs between T.J. Pledger, Rhamondre Stevenson and Seth McGowan, all of whom could get touches if healthy.
The Sooners have suddenly turned into an elite team the last few weeks and while they don’t have a shot at the College Football Playoff, they should still run through the conference and show their dominance.
The Mountaineers haven’t shown enough offensively to win this matchup and unless Rattler really screws up, the Sooners could be set for at least 30 points and potentially more.
Oklahoma has won 8 in a row in this series and in the last six of those contests they have scored 44+ points. We thought Oklahoma State would slow down the Sooners offense last week and were we ever wrong.
Our model likes West Virginia here, predicting this game to be as close as a field goal. Historically, our model is at it’s best when predicting an underdog of this magnitude to keep a game close.
We’re a little hesitant to pull the trigger after what we saw from the Sooners last week but keep in mind that West Virginia held the high powered Texas offense to just 17 points a couple of weeks ago.
That’s precisely the type of performance that will be needed here to cover this spot which is now 11 at some shops.
West Virginia +11