Oklahoma football: Four storylines for home finale with West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 19: Baker Mayfield
MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 19: Baker Mayfield /

For the first time in three seasons, the final Oklahoma football game of the regular season will not determine the Big 12 champion.

That’s because the Big 12 Championship will not be decided until next weekend, when the conference title game in football returns after a seven-year hiatus. The past two seasons, the Sooners have clinched the conference crown by defeating Bedlam rival Oklahoma State in the regular-season finale.

Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1), ranked No. 4 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, has already secured a spot in next week’s Big 12 Championship, but before that they will play host to West Virginia (7-4, 5-3) on a Senior Day home finale at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

With the Sooners one of the top four teams that would make the Playoff if the season ended today, don’t expect them to take West Virginia lightly. They must keep winning to remain in focus in the Playoff picture.

Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team West Virginia has not beaten since the Mountaineers joined the conference in 2012. The Sooners are 5-0 against West Virginia as Big 12 opponents.

Here are four more storylines surrounding the Saturday matchup between the Sooners and the Mountaineers:

Starter out; new quarterback in for West Virginia

West Virginia junior quarterback Will Grier left the first quarter of last week’s game against Texas with an injured finger. He had surgery this week and is probably out for the season. Back-up quarterback Chris Chugunov, a redshirt freshman, will start at Oklahoma. He was 14 for 26 for 189 yards and a touchdown against Texas and will be making his first career start against the Sooners.

Senior running back Justin Crawford had 334 yard rushing a year ago against the Sooners, an average of 13.8 yards per carry.

How will Baker Mayfield respond to all the negative press

The past week has arguably been one of the worst in Baker Mayfield’s career at Oklahoma. The third-year starter at quarterback for the Sooners has been the subject of widespread criticism for his crotch-grabbing incident and profanity-laced jawing at Kansas fans in last weekend’s 41-3 OU victory over the Jayhawks. Mayfield is considered the front runner for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

Mayfield will not get the start in the West Virginia game for the first time in 37 games at Oklahoma. He also has been relieved of his captaincy for this game, his final one at Owen Field. It will be interesting to see how Mayfield responds to all of this. If history holds true, he will have a giant game

Eighteen OU seniors are playing their final home game

This will be a very emotional day for 18 Sooners who will be experiencing their final home game at Oklahoma.

Among those OU seniors who will making their final home appearance in a Sooner uniform are QB Baker Mayfield, FB Dimitri Flowers, LB Emmanuel Beal, LS Wesley Horky, DB Will Johnson, WR Jeffery Mead, LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, S Steven Parker, CB Jordan Thomas, DT Matt Romar, WR Jordan Smallwood, DE D.J. Ward and OL Erick Wren.

First-year head coach Lincoln Riley on verge of an OU record

With 10 wins in his first season as the Oklahoma head coach, Lincoln Riley is tied with Chuck Fairbanks (1967) and Barry Switzer (1973) for the most wins by an OU head coach in his inaugural season. A win over West Virginia will give Riley 11 wins and make him the winningest coach in his first season in school history.