Even in their two-game losing streak, the Oklahoma Sooners have shown signs of an improved football team. Obviously, it hasn’t been perfect, and there are things they have to improve, but there are encouraging signs.
But those encouraging signs won’t mean as much if the Sooners can’t correct the issues that have plagued them in recent weeks.
Self-inflicted wounds hurt the Sooners in tight games. If they avoid untimely penalties and protect the football better, they’ll put themselves in a position to snap their two-game skid.
The Oklahoma Sooners played a good defensive game a year ago in Morgantown, but struggled to contain Garrett Greene after he replaced J.T. Daniels at quarterback. It was Green’s ability to run the football that killed the Sooners, especially late in the game after West Virginia ran a ton of plays and kept a tired Sooners’ defense on the field for 93 plays.
Better depth, in particular at linebacker should allow their defensive guys to stay fresh as the Mountaineers attempt to slow the pace again and run a ton of plays.
But who wins the game? Let’s take a look at this week’s staff predictions.
Sooners Get Back On Track
What a terrible few weeks it’s been for the Oklahoma Sooners. They’ve had 19 penalties and six turnovers in the last two weeks combined. A lot of those penalties have killed drives for an offense that didn’t have much trouble moving the ball otherwise.
But it’s time for the Sooners to pick themselves up off of the mat.
West Virginia has the No. 7 ranked rushing attack in the country, and they aren’t bad defensively either, statistically better than the Sooners.
This game should be a game the Sooners win as long as they correct the turnovers and penalties that have plagued them the last two weeks.
Defensively, Oklahoma has to control the run game, especially the quarterback run game. If you can hold them under 180 rushing yards as a team and make Garrett Greene a passer, the Sooners should win comfortably.
I think the Sooners get back on track.
Oklahoma 38, West Virginia 20
Contact/Follow Jaron Spor
Sooners Shut Up the Critics
Saturday marks a turning point in Oklahoma’s season, or they officially hit a low point for back-to-back seasons. It’s a must-win. They cannot lose on Saturday. Not only would it take their Big 12 chances from slim to none, it would raise some red flags and set off some alarms about a team that started the season 7-0.
The Sooners have dominated the Mountaineers over the years. In 2022, Garrett Greene had a career day running and throwing against that horrific defense.
The Sooners have improved significantly on defense. They’ll wear the UNITY alternates, a favorite of the players, and I think Oklahoma will win and shut the critics up for at least a week.
Dillon Gabriel throws for three touchdowns, one of which goes to Jalil Farooq. Gavin Sawchuk gets into the endzone for the fourth straight game while I’m going out on a limb and predicting a rushing touchdown for Dillon Gabriel as well.
Oklahoma 38, WVU 27
Contact/Follow Bryant Crews
Mental miscues and unforced errors have been the key contributors to Oklahoma’s losses in the last two weeks. Playing on the road and in inclement weather (Kansas) can have that effect. The Sooners played well enough to win otherwise in both Kansas and Oklahoma State losses.
Getting back to the friendly confines of Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium should do wonders for the Oklahoma Sooners from an execution standpoint.
As well as West Virginia is playing coming into the contest, the Oklahoma Sooners have been steady against the run. The Sooners have held three of their last four opponents (Texas, UCF, and Oklahoma State) under their season average in rushing yards. The Mountaineers rank No. 7 in the nation in rushing yards per game. They’ll have some success, but that’s been the strength of the Sooners defense this season, and it continues this week.
Oklahoma will defend the run well to force Garrett Greene into third and long situations, another area where the Sooners have been really good.
Ollie Gordon had a good week last week. By no means did the Sooners shut him down, but they slowed him down and came through in clutch moments.
It’s time for the offense to rediscover their pace of play and get the Sooners back on track. Dillon Gabriel has been really good. The running game has begun to find its legs. If they can keep from hurting themselves with penalties and turnovers, the offense has a big day led by Gabriel, Tawee Walker, and Nic Anderson.
Sooners 35, Mountaineers 21
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USA TODAY Sports Sweep
In their weekly top 25 predictions, each of the six analysts at USA TODAY Sports picked the Sooners to beat West Virginia.
Like it was two weeks ago in College Sports Wire’s picks against the spread, two of the four analysts picked the Sooners’ opponent against the spread.
Oklahoma fell from No. 9 to No. 17 in this week’s College Football Playoff poll. Season goals are very much in danger as the team needs a Texas and Kansas loss to make the Big 12 title game. I think the Sooners still refocus and put up another win, but don’t count out a tough West Virginia team. – Joey Hickey, Longhorns Wire