Celebrate America's Greatest Homecoming at Boone Pickens Stadium!
— Oklahoma State Athletics (@OSUAthletics) October 26, 2016
After a week off, the Oklahoma State Cowboys host the 10th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in Stillwater for Homecoming. Oklahoma State is currently 5-2 (3-1 in conference play) coming off a bye week, and West Virginia is undefeated at 6-0 (3-0 in conference play) after defeating TCU 34-10 last Saturday.
Since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 Conference four years ago, Oklahoma State and West Virginia have split the series at two wins apiece. West Virginia will likely be the toughest team that the Cowboys have faced all season.
The Mountaineers are currently a 3.5-point favorite, so it should make for a great game of football. Despite this being a great matchup and homecoming for the Cowboys, kickoff is set at 11 AM. The game will be broadcast on TV on FOX, as well as on the radio on 96.1 FM.
Under Head Coach Dana Holgoersen, West Virginia has had some fast-paced, high-scoring offenses that focus primarily on the passing attack in recent years, but this season, the offense is a little bit more balanced. The Mountaineers rank 37th in the nation in rushing offense with 206.5 yard per game and 20th in passing offense with 303.5 yard per game, ranking them 10th in total offense in the nation.
Quarterback Skylar Howard is an efficient passer and a capable runner, so all eyes will be on him. If the Oklahoma State defense can keep Howard contained in the pocket while also maintaining solid coverage, the Cowboys could keep this one close. The Mountaineers also have talented running backs in Rushel Shell III and Justin Crawford, who have combined for 836 yards and eight touchdowns. Howard likes to spread the ball around as he has four different receivers that have at least 20 receptions, so the Cowboy secondary should be busy.
Perhaps the most noticeable change in West Virginia this year is their defense. In a conference full of action-packed offenses, the Mountaineers have done a solid job at stopping some of even the best offenses. Just two weeks ago, West Virginia held Texas Tech, the #1 offense in the nation, to a mere 17 points.
West Virginia has a strong defensive line with Noble Nwachku, the team’s leader in sacks, and Darrien Howard, the defensive line’s leader in tackles, flocking to the ball in every way possible. The Mountaineers have a somewhat inexperienced secondary, but they have done an excellent job so far, good enough to rank them fourth in the conference in pass defense. The Cowboys have their work cut out for them.
Offensively, the Cowboys can be successful if they are able to do one thing well: block. If the offensive line can make some running lanes while also protecting quarterback Mason Rudolph, the Oklahoma State offense could put up some solid numbers. West Virginia likes to run a lot of man defense in the secondary, which could create some golden opportunities for playmakers like wide receivers James Washington and Jalen McCleskey.
Defensively, Oklahoma State needs to hone in Skylar Clark. It is pretty much a guarantee that Clark will have a spy on him for the entire game, as the Cowboys cannot afford to let him run loose. If Oklahoma can shut down Clark’s legs, then they can focus on stopping the pass.
West Virginia is a very good football team, and they have been the most impressive team in the Big 12 all season, but it is homecoming in Stillwater, and Oklahoma State is looking to force an upset.