Posted on October 24, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Oklahoma State entered the 2017 season with visions of playing in a national championship game. A loss to TCU has made that image harder to achieve, but they are not out of the hunt yet. However, to have a shot, they are going to need to make it to the Big 12 Championship Game.
To do that, they can’t afford to lose another game this season.
The West Virginia Mountaineers were not part of national title conversations coming into the season. But after a ten-win season in 2016, there were still expectations. While the competition would be fierce, the fans hoped their team could be in the hunt for the Big 12 title.
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With a 3-1 conference record they are, but to remain in the hunt, they can’t afford to lose another game.
When Oklahoma State and West Virginia play this weekend, one team will walk away with their hopes and dreams intact. The other—better luck next season.
So, who’s going to win?
West Virginia has a tall order in front of them. Somehow, they are going to have to figure out how to slow down Mason Rudolph, a guy who has thrown multiple touchdown passes in every game this season but one. They’ll have to figure out how to cover James Washington, Marcell Ateman, and Jalen McCleskey without slacking off on anyone.
After they’ve managed to do that, all they’ll need to do is figure out how to keep running back Justice Hill in check. Simple, right? If the Texas Longhorns can do it, surely the Mountaineers can!
Texas has a good run defense and a questionable pass defense and still held Rudolph and Hill out of the end zone. However, the Cowboys still generated over 400 yards of offense and scored enough to win. Is there a chance West Virginia can do the same?
The Mountaineers are ranked 111th in total defense. They are 99th against the run and 105th in passing yards allowed. So—no, they can’t. Rudolph is going to put on an exhibition, and Justice Hill is going to turn the game into a track meet.
So, Oklahoma State is going to win then, right? Not necessarily.
While the Mountaineers defense is questionable, in true Big 12 fashion, they still win games because they outscore everyone. Former Florida quarterback Will Grier has turned the West Virginia offense into the fifth best overall (539.4 yards/game), fourth best in passing (364 yards/game), and fourth best in scoring (43.3 points/game).
West Virginia will more than likely not stop the Cowboys from scoring, but maybe they could win a shootout. So— will they? Win a shootout with Oklahoma State?
The game is going to be a high scoring affair, and both quarterbacks are going to generate huge numbers. But when push comes to shove, Oklahoma State has an okay defense while West Virginia’s is just bad. Both teams will put up some serious points, but the Cowboys are going to stop the Mountaineers a couple of times. West Virginia will struggle to stop Oklahoma State once.
Oklahoma State is favored by 7.5 and will cover the spread with ease.