NORMAN, Okla. – There have been no shortage of shootouts between Oklahoma and West Virginia in their one-sided rivalry in recent years, although the days of pinball-like scoring may be coming to a halt in 2019 due to the remarkable improvement by the Sooners' defense. Coming off last week's Red River Rivalry victory, No. 5 Oklahoma returns home Saturday to nail down an eighth straight victory over the Mountaineers.
TV: Noon ET, FOX. LINE: Oklahoma -34.
The Sooners improved to 37-2 over their last 39 Big 12 contests following a 34-27 win over 15th-ranked Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas last Saturday, tying a school record with nine sacks while totaling 15 tackles for loss. "Defensively, just was awesome. We tackled well, covered them well. Obviously, we were able to get quite a bit of pressure on the quarterback which is probably the key to the game," coach Lincoln Riley said after the game. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has spearheaded the dramatic turnaround for Oklahoma, which ranks first in the conference in pass defense efficiency (122.9), second in passing defense (187.3 yards), scoring defense (21 points per game) and sacks per game (4.3) during league action. The Mountaineers managed to hang within one score of Iowa State until early in the fourth quarter last weekend despite losing starting quarterback Austin Kendall - an Oklahoma transfer - to a chest injury on the first series of the game before falling 38-14 to the Cyclones.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (3-3, 1-2 Big 12)
Kendall is considered questionable to play against his former team, although Jack Allison held his own in relief against Iowa State by finishing 18-of-24 for 140 yards; if Kendall cannot go Saturday, Allison would be in line to make his second career start. Neither quarterback appears likely to get much help from a ground game that mustered only 41 yards versus the Cyclones - the third time this season that the conference's worst rushing offense has been held to that mark or lower. Redshirt freshman receiver Sam James, who has at least five catches in every game, is tied for third in the Big 12 and tied for 25th in FBS with 37 receptions.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (6-0, 3-0)
CeeDee Lamb, who caught at least one touchdown for the eighth straight game, took home Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and Walter Camp Player of the Week honors after tallying a career-high 10 receptions for 171 yards and three TDs against Texas - giving him seven scores over the last three contests. Jalen Hurts leads all quarterbacks with 105 yards rushing per game and is averaging 398 yards of total offense - more than 54 FBS teams. Starting tight end Grant Calcaterra (five catches for 79 scoreless yards) will miss a second consecutive game due to an undisclosed injury Saturday, although his role has been greatly reduced in 2019 after posting 26 receptions for 396 yards and six TDs last year.
1. Oklahoma and West Virginia have combined for no fewer than 68 points in their last seven meetings, and the Sooners have scored at least 44 points in six of those contests.
2. Mountaineers DL Darius Stills ranks fourth in the Big 12 in tackles-for-loss per game (1.4) and tied for third in sacks per game (0.7). His brother, Dante, ranks 14th in TFLs (0.9) and third in sacks (0.7).
3. The Sooners are the only team in the nation with at least 19 rushing touchdowns (19) and 19 passing TDs (20).
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 52, West Virginia 17