The Sooners travel to West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers on Saturday. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on:
1. How will the Sooners react to their first trip to Morgantown, W. Va.?
No player in the program has played at West Virginia. Milan Puskar Stadium is generally an unpleasant place to play for opponents but the Mountaineers have lost to Kansas State and TCU in their last two home games.
The road atmosphere isn’t likely to be as rowdy as expected when the season began and this was considered one of the Big 12’s marquee games of 2012.
2. What happens if the Sooners commit multiple turnovers?
Ball protection will be critical for the Sooners who don’t want to give West Virginia’s offense more opportunities than they have to. Four of Landry Jones’ seven interceptions this season have come in OU’s last three games so the Sooners need their senior quarterback to be very careful with the football on Saturday.
If OU does turn it over, it could create a swell of momentum that ignites the Mountaineer’s explosive offense and turns this into a tougher game than it appears to be on paper.
3. Have the Mountaineers mailed it in or do the consider this game an opportunity to reignite their season?
After a 5-0 start, the Big 12 has battered the Mountaineers, sending them on a four-game losing skid. After averaging 598.5 yards of total offense per game during September, WVU’s average fell to 370.3 in October and 408.5 in November. Multiple players have left the team and there appears to be some unrest in the program.
Nonetheless, the Sooners visit gives WVU the opportunity to make a statement and regain some positive vibes around the program. Do the Mountaineers want to get the season over with or finish strong? We’ll know more about the answer to that question on Saturday.
4. Will Geno Smith return to his September form?
Smith looked like the Heisman favorite in September, completing 141 of 169 passing attempts (83.4 percent) for 1,738 yards and 20 touchdowns with no interceptions in four victories.
Since then, he’s completed 143 of 230 attempts (62.2 percent) for 1,310 yards, 11 touchdowns with three interceptions. Smith seems unsure of himself at times and has made more errant throws as the season progressed.
However, if the September version of Smith takes the field on Saturday, the Sooners will have to bring their ‘A’ game to leave town with a victory.
5. Does WVU have any hope of stopping the Sooners?
The simple answer is: No. The Mountaineers do have a chance to slow the Sooners, however.
WVU uses several different looks to get pressure and try to confuse a quarterback so If they have some success confusing Landry Jones, they could create some turnovers, which is just as good as stopping the Sooners.
If the Sooners protect the ball, they should have the advantage in the passing game with their four-receiver sets and their running game with a offensive line that is getting healthier and dynamic running back Damien Williams with the football in his hands. While the WVU defense has been better in recent weeks, OU’s offense could have plenty of success on Saturday.