Oklahoma is back home for the first time since their nailbiting win against UCF out of the bye week. The Sooners have yet to lose at home this season. So playing a game with the home crowd behind you could be just what the doctor ordered. Oklahoma is desperate for a win and still has a fighting spirit left to compete for the Big 12 Title. They’ll need some help, but if they don’t finish the regular season on a winning streak, it won’t matter.
Their opponent this week is Neal Brown’s West Virginia Mountaineers. After being picked dead last in this year’s Big 12 preseason media poll, they are on a revenge tour. Neal Brown and his team took offense to that and are currently in pursuit of finishing the season in the top half of the Big 12. The Mountaineers are 6-3 (4-2 Big 12) and come in after beating Big 12 newcomers BYU by 30 last week.
West Virginia is a tough team that plays hard, and while they certainly aren’t among the league’s most talented teams, if Oklahoma doesn’t show up, they’ll be on upset alert.
As the Sooners prepare for their primetime contest, we’re highlighting five Mountaineers ahead of the matchup.
Beanie Bishop, CB
If there’s one defender Oklahoma needs to be game-planning around, it’s West Virginia’s Beanie Bishop.
Bishop is a journeyman. West Virginia marks his third collegiate team. His career started at Western Kentucky before he transferred to Minnesota for 2022. He moved to West Virginia and has been one of the league’s best corners this season. He currently leads the Big 12 with 17 pass breakups and is second in the conference with four interceptions.
He’s not even six feet tall, but his competitive nature is arguably his greatest strength admirable. Likely, he won’t be matched up often with a bigger receiver such as Nic Anderson, but Gabriel and the Sooners offense must be aware of his ball skills when choosing to attack him.
Garrett Greene, QB
Oklahoma is familiar with West Virginia’s signal caller, Garrett Greene. Greene introduced himself to the Sooners in 2021 with a two-yard touchdown run in a closer-than-anticipated matchup.
A lot has changed defensively for Oklahoma since then. Last year, Greene lit Oklahoma up in Morgantown en route to a win. He took over for a struggling J.T. Daniels in a performance that earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. His big day against Oklahoma included 138 passing yards and a touchdown on 12-of-22 attempts. He also rushed 14 times for 119 yards and two TDs last year.
Oklahoma’s run defense has had a much-needed makeover, but you can believe West Virginia will still look to involve Greene in the QB run game to stress Oklahoma to defend all parts of the field. Greene has improved as a thrower, and while he’s not the league’s best in that regard, he is good enough to be a genuine dual threat.
Tomiwa Durojaiye, DL
When looking at the tape, West Virginia’s Tomiwa Durojaiye stands out. Durojaiye plays a bit of an undersized defensive tackle in run defense and will line up a strongside defensive end.
He has an excellent motor that has allowed him to disrupt plays repeatedly. He has three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss on the season. Durojaiye may not be a massive defensive lineman in terms of mass (weighing around 280 pounds), but he combines his play strength with good hands and technique and makes things happen.
CJ Donaldson, RB
West Virginia’s offense has been booming the last few games, and a big part of that eruption is C.J. Donaldson. Donaldson is the starting running back for the Mountaineers, and he’s put together a solid sophomore campaign.
Donaldson is a big back, standing over six feet tall and weighing over 230 pounds. He will be an absolute load for the Oklahoma defense to tackle. However, after the last few weeks, they should be well-equipped for the challenge.
He is a touchdown machine, scoring 17 touchdowns in 16 career games. On the season, he’s carried the ball 147 times for 676 yards. He has a shot at a 1,000-yard season. He’ll be spelled by Jaheim White, who is more of a scat back.
Lee Kpogba, LB
On the second level of West Virginia’s defense resides Lee Kpogba. He led the team with 92 tackles, including 44 solo stops, 3.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery in 2022. He’s back leading the way in 2023.
He garnered 2023 Preseason All-Big 12 Conference love from Athlon Sports. Kpogba is the spiritual leader of the defense. He flies around, setting the tone.
Kpogba is a WILL linebacker with good speed to flow sideline to sideline, sifting through trash and making stops.
With Oklahoma’s success getting their guards in space against Oklahoma State’s more undersized linebackers, it’ll be interesting to see if they attack Kpogba the same way.