The West Virginia Mountaineers have looked like the best team in the Big 12 this season. This weekend might be their toughest test yet. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are hoping that they can end the Mountaineers undefeated season. They come into this game with a record of 5-2 (3-1), compared to the Mountaineers that are at 6-0 (3-0). This match-up is the biggest game yet for either team. Oklahoma State can insert themselves back in the Big 12 title race with a win. West Virginia could establish themselves as a perennial playoff contender with a win. It’s Homecoming in Stillwater, and the Cowboys are looking to build on their three game winning streak. Now let’s take a look at the Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia week nine preview.
Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia Week Nine Preview
Why Oklahoma State Could Win
The Cowboys are coming off a 44-20 win over the Kansas Jayhawks, in week eight. Their running game has looked good over the past few weeks. True freshman running back Justice Hill has rushed for more than 120 yards in three of the last four games. Hill has been a game changer for the Cowboys. He is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, with 565 yards and four touchdowns rushing this season. Furthermore, the return of running back Chris Carson gave the Cowboys a big boost last weekend. He compiled more than 80 total yards and three touchdowns. The Cowboys will need a big effort from their entire backfield if they want to take down West Virginia.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph had a quiet performance against the Jayhawks. He completed 16 passes on 24 attempts, for 220 yards, and one touchdown. Last weekend also marked the third consecutive game that Rudolph has not thrown an interception. Rudolph has also been fantastic at home this season. At home, he has thrown for 1,760 yards and 13 touchdowns, with only one interception. If he can continue his solid play at home, that will also give the Cowboys a great chance to win. The Cowboys will need help from receivers James Washington-who had a quiet week eight-and Jalen McCleskey. Finding Washington over the top will be an x-factor for the Cowboy offense on Saturday.
Lastly, the Cowboys defense will have to continue to force turnovers like they did against Kansas. They were able to force three key turnovers in the second half of the game. West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard is turnover prone. The Cowboys defense should be able to take advantage of that to some degree this weekend. Considering the Cowboys are giving up an average of 448.7 total yards per game, they might have to find other ways to stop the Mountaineers offense.
Why West Virginia Could Win
The Mountaineers are coming off a very impressive 34-10 win over the TCU Horned Frogs. Howard had a solid game with 236 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Mountaineers also have the edge in both total yards and yards allowed. They are averaging 510 total yards and 392 yards allowed. Compared to the Cowboys averaging 480 total yards and 448.7 yards allowed. Straight up, it looks like West Virginia has the edge on both sides of the ball.
There are two big x-factors to West Virginia’s success in this game. First, if they can take advantage of Rudolph’s inconsistencies like they did last year, they could run away with this game. They held Rudolph to 20 of 40 passing, with 218 yards, and three interceptions last season. Futhermore, the Mountaineer defense was able to hold the high powered offenses of Texas Tech and TCU to a combined 27 points. Secondly, if they can run down the Cowboys throat with running back Rushel Shell, then they will be able to control the tempo of the game. Shell has had a productive season so far, with 465 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
West Virginia opened as a three point favorite over Oklahoma State, according to Odds Shark. However, the Cowboys have a 55.7 percent chance to win this game, according to the ESPN Football Power Index. This game will come down to who turns the ball over less and whoever controls the tempo. Yet, this game has the makings of a classic Big 12 shootout. The Cowboys three headed monster of Rudolph, Washington, and Hill, will lead them to a close victory. Oklahoma State will gets its biggest win of the season on Homecoming.
Oklahoma State 42, West Virginia 39