The Oklahoma Sooners open Big 12 play early with a meeting this Saturday with the West Virginia Mountaineers before taking off for two more non-conference games following that. The early Big 12 game will give OU a chance for some revenge after last year’s embarrassment at the hands of Geno Smith and West Virginia. In that game, West Virginia picked up 778 yards.
The men who were responsible for that beating are now in the NFL. Tavon Austin, who picked up 572 all-purpose yards in the game, is now a starting wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams. Stedman Bailey led the team in receptions, with 13 catches for 205 yards and four touchdowns is also with the Rams. Geno Smith threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns while running for 52 more yards. He is now with the New York Jets.
Despite that defensive embarrassment, Oklahoma still won the game, 50-49. Landry Jones threw for 554 yards and six touchdowns.
One has to wonder who wants revenge more, Mike Stoops and his defense or the West Virginia coaching staff who did everything they could on offense to win, but still fell short.
This year’s game will look nothing like the 2012 shootout.
Gone is Landry Jones and replacing him as the Oklahoma Sooners’ starting quarterback is Trevor Knight. In the first game against Louisiana-Monroe, Knight threw for less than 100 yards while running for more yards than any OU quarterback since Jason White. The Sooners relied on the running game and looked like old-school Sooners’ football. Knight has been compared a lot to Johnny Manziel but he will have to throw the ball a lot better if he wants to keep those comparisons.
On the other side of the team is the Oklahoma Sooners’ defense. The team that gave up yards to everyone they played in 2012 shut out the Warhawks in week one with the best defensive performance OU has shown since Mike Stoops last walked the sidelines so many years ago. This team is not set up to give up 700 yards of offense to anyone.
This is also a very different West Virginia team. With Smith, Austin and Bailey gone, the team needed a second half surge just to beat an FBS team in William & Mary. The final score was 24-17. While OU dominated their opponent, who was actually a bowl team in 2012 with a number of returning starters, West Virginia needed a lot of work to put away a team beneath both schools.
Paul Millard is the new quarterback for the Mountaineers and he completed 19 of 25 passes for 237 yards to pick up the win. It was the least amount of pass attempts by any quarterback playing for Dana Holgorsen since 2000. With that in mind, it looks like the two teams that had a shootout last year will be running the ball a lot more than either fanbase is used to.
Much like Oklahoma, they relied on a running game with Charles Sims rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown and another running back leading the team in receptions with Dreamius Smith catching seven balls for 63 yards and running for another 40 on the ground.
This will be a ground and pound game and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the two teams combined points scored be less than either one of them scored alone last year.
The Oklahoma Sooners and West Virginia Mountaineers kick off at 7 p.m. EST on Saturday night in Norman.