Entering Saturday’s matchup with the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater this Saturday, Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson told media that the Mountaineers “have redemption on [their] mind.” They “came [to Morgantown] and embarrassed us last year.” Gibson also told the media before the team’s lopsided win over TCU that his defense “plays better angry.” That has certainly been the case this season. Their most dominant performances have come when they have had added motivation. The Cowboys’ offense should take note that West Virginia seeks redemption this weekend.
The Championship Discussion
Talk about a possible spot in the Big XII Championship game has accelerated over the past few weeks. West Virginia no doubt controls its own destiny there. If they wins their next two games, West Virginia clinches a spot in the championship game. If it splits the final two games and Texas beats Iowa State, then the Mountaineers clinch a spot. And, sure, we picked the Mountaineers to be in the championship game way back in August, particularly if two of our other predictions came true. But the talk remains premature. The Mountaineers’ fate will still be decided on the gridiron, as it should.
The Cowboys’ Offense
Oklahoma State’s offense has been potent as always this year. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius has grown through the course of the season. He has accounted for 30 total touchdowns (23 passing and seven rushing), and he has thrown for eight interceptions. He spreads the ball well across several targets, Tylan Wallace, Tyron Johnson, and Dillon Stoner being the most lethal of the receiving corps. Justice Hill and Chuba Hubbard have both been effective out of the backfield. Both average about six yards per carry on the season.
As Head Coach Dana Holgorsen admitted, the Cowboys’ offensive line has gelled throughout the season. “They are getting better up front,” which has helped the Cowboys’ offense produce forty points per game. Holgorsen relented, “defensively, it will be our biggest test yet.”
The Cowboys’ Defense
Oklahoma State’s defense, on the other hand, has surrendered over thirty points per game, 94th in the nation. Holgorsen, however, is wary. “It’s a weird defense,” he says. They’re giving up a lot of points and yards, but “they look really good.” The Cowboys certainly have high-caliber athletes on the defense, including the “best cornerback duo” the Mountaineers have faced all season.
The Cowboys also specialize in getting into the backfield, forcing nearly 40 sacks on the year. The front is led by Jordan Brailford and Jarrell Owens. But they are supported by linebackers Calvin Bundage and Justin Phillips, who are among the best in the Big XII. Thus, while the defense as a unit has surrendered lots of points in conference play, they also have a bevy of playmakers to challenge Will Grier and the offense.
The Mountaineers Get Redemption
Holgorsen reminded the media that the Cowboys have won three straight against the Mountaineers, including last year’s embarrassment (as Gibson put it). No doubt the entire staff is reminding the team of the same this week. The Mountaineers remain focused on the task at hand. And while we write and talk about the conference championship, fans can be assured that the team is thinking exclusively about the Cowboys. They look to return the favor. And they will. Led by an angry defensive unit with an axe to grind, the Mountaineers will get redemption in Stillwater. West Virginia wins 40-22.