The West Virginia Mountaineers scored a huge win last week to keep their bowl hopes alive. They’ll look for another one this week as they host the no. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Game time is at noon EST on Saturday, November 23 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Oddsmakers list the Cowboys as 7.5-point favorites on the road. There is also an over/under for the game set at 60 points. Click here to get a full list of this week’s college football schedule and betting odds for every game.
To the surprise of many, the Mountaineers snapped their five-game losing streak with a road win against a top-25 Kansas State team last week. West Virginia got a boost from Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege, who made his first start for the Mountaineers and threw three touchdown passes. The win kept West Virginia’s slim bowl hopes alive and should be enough to at least keep them from finishing last in the Big 12 this year. At 4-6, the Mountaineers still need to win their two remaining games to get to a bowl. However, they’ll have a fighting chance with a home game against Oklahoma State this week and a road game against a 5-5 TCU team next week.
Speaking of the Cowboys, they are riding a three-game winning streak after their 31-13 win over Kansas last week. Mike Gundy has already secured yet another bowl bid for Oklahoma State, who sits at 7-3 and still has a chance to win 10 games this season. It’s also worth noting that if Oklahoma loses to TCU this week, the Cowboys could pass their in-state rivals in the Big 12 standings and play in the conference championship game if they beat the Sooners in next week’s season finale. Of course, that scenario also involves Oklahoma State taking care of business this week and beating West Virginia.
The good news for Oklahoma State is that they have beaten the Mountaineers in four straight meetings. West Virginia has just two wins in seven games against the Cowboys since joining the Big 12. In fact, the Cowboys have been victorious in their last two visits to Morgantown.
West Virginia surely scored a big confidence boost by beating Kansas State last week. That win should help invigorate the fanbase ahead of a home game. But I’m still not buying the Mountaineers as a bowl team. They still have plenty of flaws and a good Oklahoma State team should be able to take advantage of WVU’s weaknesses. To be honest, I don’t love the spread being a little over a touchdown. But I’ll still lay down the points and lean toward the Cowboys to cover.
Admittedly, Doege getting the start at quarterback gave the Mountaineers a much-needed spark offensively. But 24 points is still a rather modest output in the Big 12. West Virginia still has no viable rushing attack, which is bound to hold them back in this game. Plus, Kansas State wasn’t sure that Doege would get the start and didn’t have much film on him to help prepare outside of his days at Bowling Green. Obviously, that’s no longer the case, taking away the element of surprise for West Virginia and giving Oklahoma State a better chance of preparing to face Doege.
On the other side of the ball, there is the small matter of the West Virginia defense having to slow down the OSU offense. I’m not putting too much stock in the Mountaineers holding a somewhat limited K-State offense to 20 points last week. West Virginia is still giving up close to 33 points per game against power-conference opponents this season. In fact, they’ve allowed at least 38 points in their Big 12 home games this season, so playing in front of the home fans hasn’t made much of a difference.
The Cowboys simply have too much firepower offensively to make me think the WVU defense can slow them down. Running back Chuba Hubbard has been a near-unstoppable force all season. Not only has he rushed for over 100 yards in all but one game this year but he’s gained at least 120 yards on the ground in all but two games. Hubbard has 20 touchdowns on the season and is a home run threat every time he touches the ball.
Oklahoma State can also strike quickly in the passing game. Freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders remains mistake-prone at times. But he’s not afraid to push the ball down the field, and he has a receiver in Tylan Wallace as a serious big-play threat. That tandem will be a challenge for the West Virginia secondary, especially since the Mountaineers have to dedicate a lot of attention to slowing down Hubbard.
All things considered, I don’t trust the West Virginia defense to hold the Cowboys under 30 points, and perhaps not even under 40 points. I also don’t think the Mountaineers are explosive enough offensively to keep pace in a shootout. Doege gives them a chance if the game is played in the 10s or 20s, but he doesn’t have the playmakers around him to win a shootout. Oklahoma State should create enough big plays to pull away and cover the 7.5-point spread.