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OU Football: Previewing Saturday's Matchup With West Virginia

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Oklahoma (8-2, 7-0) will continue its hunt for a Big 12 championship this Saturday at 7 p.m. when the Sooners travel to Morgantown for a conference clash with No. 14 West Virginia (8-1, 5-1).

Related: Bob Stoops Weekly News Conference Following Win Over Baylor

“They [WVU] play really aggressive and confidently in the way they’re playing so a very good football team, it’ll be a big challenge and an exciting one coming this Saturday,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said.

Here are a few things to know about the matchup:

Sooners will face hostile environment

While plenty of players on this OU team are used to playing in front of rival crowds, this Saturday night inside of Milan Puskar Stadium presents one of the rowdiest venues in all of college football. The Mountaineer faithful have a rowdy reputation, and there’s no doubt they’ll want to see their team pull out a win over Oklahoma.

“A tough environment to play in but a very exciting environment to play in,” Coach Stoops said. “It’ll be sold out, ruckus crowd and rowdy crowd. Those are exciting venues to play in.”

It won’t be an easy task to tune out a likely lathered crowd of WVU fans, but fortunately for OU, the Sooners have a quarterback who takes a lot of joy in quieting a sold-out stadium.

West Virginia will attack with ground game

The Mountaineers have been known to have an air-it-out offense in years past with prolific playmakers such as Geno Smith and Tavon Austin, but this season West Virginia is taking a run-first approach, which has resulted in an average of 211 rushing yards per game while wearing down opposing defenses.

“West Virginia is an excellent football team. I think no question Dana Holgorsen and his staff have done a great job,” Coach Stoops said. “In particularly offensively, they’re very, very physical running the football and really work the run game and they’ve got some big-play hitters outside, and Skyler Howard, a really good quarterback to throw the football as well.”

With an experienced signal caller in Howard behind center, the Mountaineers have three solid backs in Justin Crawford, Rushel Shell and Kennedy McKoy, who all have at least 459 rushing yards this season. Shell leads the team with 104 carries, but the senior missed last week’s game against Texas while McKoy got a bulk of the work and made the most of it with 73 yards.

Wideouts Daikiel Shorts and Shelton Gibson are big play threats on the outside, so look for both guys to get plenty of looks in an offense that averages 32.2 points per game.

Mountaineers are strong defensively

While WVU won’t stack up quite like the Buckeyes’ defense did earlier in the season, the Mountaineers do lead the league in scoring defense by allowing opponents to score only 20.6 points per game while averaging 409.8 yards.

“Defensively they’ve been good all year,” Coach Stoops said. “Tony Gibson does an excellent job with his 3-3 defense, bringing pressure different ways. They’re going to bring outside, from each side of the field, they’re going to bring it inside then they’ll drop eight, cover with eight and rush three so they do a nice job of mixing it up.”

Saturday night will be a true clash of the Big 12’s top offense against the top defense, so it should be exciting to see who comes out on top. 

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