MORGANTOWN, W.V. – Chuba Hubbard has garnered the most notoriety for No. 23 Oklahoma State this season, but the defense is taking over the spotlight in recent weeks. The Cowboys and their rejuvenated defense seek a fourth straight win when they visit raucous West Virginia on Saturday.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN2. LINE: Oklahoma State -7.
Oklahoma State has not been known for its defense in recent seasons, but the Cowboys have forced 10 turnovers during the win streak and yielded just 290 total yards, including 39 rushing, in last week's 31-13 win over Kansas. The Oklahoma State defense entered the game allowing opponents to convert just 26.5 percent of third-down attempts since the week of Sept. 28, ranking third in the FBS during that time span, and it held the Jayhawks to six conversions in 17 opportunities. "As everyone knows, it is hard to play defense in this league. Defenses have rallied a little bit, as there has been better defensive play overall," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said at his weekly press conference. "We still have a long way to go, but I think our schemes and the understanding of the players is getting better each week." West Virginia, which played Baylor to a one-score game a few weeks ago, is coming off a 24-20 win over Kansas State last week and will try and snap a four-game losing skid in the series.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (7-3, 4-3 Big 12)
The leader of the defense is sophomore safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, who had two interceptions last week, ranks third in FBS in passes defended (16) and tied for fourth with five interceptions this season. “He has great football intelligence. He is a guy who can pick my brain at practice,” defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “He understands offensive and defensive schemes. Defense is a lot about momentum and attitude. We have a lot of momentum right now and we’ve got to keep it up. Kolby is our leader for sure.” Hubbard did his part as usual against the Jayhawks, rushing for 100 yards in the first half for the seventh time this season, finishing with 126 yards on 23 carries and two TDs to push his totals to a nation-best 1,726 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (second in FBS).
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (4-6, 2-5)
Jarret Doege, a Bowling Green grad transfer who played the final quarter two weeks ago against Texas Tech, went the distance at quarterback against the Wildcats, completing 20-of-30 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against the Wildcats. “I just felt like we had lost five in a row and we needed a changeup,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown explained. “Jarret had practiced well and so we made the decision. Austin (Kendall) was disappointed, and I feel for him because he transferred here (from Oklahoma) with the hope and expectation that he was going to win the job; he won the job, and we haven’t necessarily performed well around him.” Freshman receiver Sam James, who was targeted 18 times with 14 catches for 223 yards in the Texas Tech loss, had just one grab versus Kansas State, but George Campbell grabbed a team-best five catches for 92 yards and two scores, giving him six TDs on 14 catches for the season.
1. Oklahoma State owns a 6-4 all-time series advantage dating to 1928.
2. Hubbard has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the last eight games, which marks the longest active streak in FBS, and the sophomore has a rushing touchdown in every game.
3. Doege earned his first career start for West Virginia against Kansas State, making him the 28th Mountaineer to earn his first West Virginia start this season.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 36, West Virginia 22