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Mountaineers Look to Change Their Fortune in Series With Oklahoma

Entering week four, the West Virginia Mountaineers come in with a record of 2-1 after a critical non-conference home victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies.  The Mountaineers will travel down to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the fourth ranked Oklahoma Sooners.  Oklahoma, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Spencer Rattler, comes in at 3-0 after a narrow victory against Nebraska. 

These two teams have met 12 times in a series that goes back to 1958.  Since joining the Big 12, WVU and Oklahoma have played eight times, and the Sooners have won every one of those matchups.  Though the recent series is a little lopsided, there are still multiple games that are very memorable. 

2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ) 

Going into the new year, WVU had been written off completely.  After having a dominant 2007 season, the Mountaineers were one win away from clenching a birth to the BCS National Championship but fell to a 4-7 Pitt team at home.  After the loss, head coach Rich Rodriguez left WVU to take the head coaching job at Michigan.   

Going into the Fiesta Bowl, the Mountaineers matched up with Oklahoma, who many thought were the best team in the country with future Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford at quarterback.  None of the experts had West Virginia winning in their predictions. 

Under interim head coach Bill Stewart, the Mountaineers came out with a large chip on their shoulder.  In the first quarter, Pat McAfee made two field goals to put WVU up 6-0. 

In the second quarter, the Mountaineers would start putting pressure on Oklahoma.  After a Sooners field goal, WVU senior fullback Owen Schmitt ran a 57-yard touchdown in to give the Mountaineers a 13-3 lead.  Later in the quarter, quarterback Pat White found Darius Reynaud for a 21-yard touchdown to give West Virginia a 20-6 lead at half. 

Early in the 3rd quarter, Oklahoma responded with a field goal and a goal-line touchdown to make it a 20-15 ballgame.  WVU would respond, as freshman running back Noel Devine would make his presence felt after starting running back Steve Slaton suffered an early injury. Devine ran a touchdown in from 17-yards out to make it 27-15. 

The Mountaineers did not take their foot off the gas on their next offensive possession.  As the third quarter was winding down, Pat White put WVU in scoring position with a 42-yard run, and on the next play, Darius Reynaud would take a shovel pass all the way for a 30-yard touchdown.  Reynaud went into a full-on dive into the end zone for some extra style points as well.  WVU held a 34-15 lead going into the fourth quarter. 

In the fourth, Oklahoma wide receiver Quentin Chaney caught a 19-yard touchdown on a fourth and one to cut the WVU lead to 34-21.  Again, the WVU offense would answer, this time in the form of a very big play.  On the first play of the drive, Pat White aired the ball down field to wide receiver Tito Gonzales who caught the ball at mid field, then shook off a defender, and ran in for a 79-yard touchdown to give WVU a 41-21 lead. 

Oklahoma answered with a 15-yard touchdown strike to Juaquin Iglesias to cut the WVU lead back down to 41-28.  Like the previous three drives, WVU would take the ball back and find the end zone.  This time, running back Noel Devine broke loose and sped down the field for a back-breaking 65-yard touchdown to give WVU a 48-28 lead. 

The Mountaineers would win by that score, and it capped off arguably the greatest game in West Virginia football history. This game became a great comeback story, as the Mountaineers won in convincing fashion after being abandoned by their coach and having the entire nation pick against them. 

2012 (Morgantown, WV) 

In West Virginia’s first season in the Big 12 conference, the Mountaineers started off strong with a 5-0 record, but fell into a losing streak.  WVU would lose four-straight games and faced Oklahoma looking to break that streak. 

In the first quarter, Oklahoma took a 10-3 lead after a short touchdown a field goal. 

The second quarter was filled with action, as Andrew Buie scored from 1-yard out for WVU to tie the game at 10-10.  The Sooners would answer with a long 76-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders to put them up 17-10.  Later in the second quarter, the Sooners would find the end zone again with a 4-yard touchdown catch by Kenny Stills to put Oklahoma up 24-10. 

The Mountaineers didn’t go away, as senior quarterback Geno Smith found Stedman Bailey for a 33-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 24-17.  The next Oklahoma drive, running back Damien Williams ran for a 48-yard touchdown to give the Sooners a 31-17 lead at halftime. 

In the second half, West Virginia senior wide receiver Tavon Austin would start to dominate.  WVU lined the wide receiver at running back, and Austin took advantage, rushing for a 74-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to make it a 31-24 game. 

Oklahoma would keep scoring, as quarterback Landry Jones found Kenny Stills for another touchdown, this time from 11 yards out to extend the lead to 38-24. Before the third quarter ended, Tavon Austin would run for a 4-yard touchdown to cut the Sooners lead to 38-30, but the extra point was missed.  This would come back to haunt the Mountaineers. 

The Mountaineers scored to open the fourth quarter on a shovel pass to Stedman Bailey, which he ran in from 4-yards out.  WVU would go for a 2-point conversion to make up for the missed extra point, but it failed, so the Sooners kept a 38-36 lead. 

After a stop from the WVU defense, Tavon Austin kept carving up the Oklahoma defense.  Austin got loose and ran for 53 yards to put the Mountaineers in scoring position.  After the run and some Oklahoma penalties, Geno Smith found Stedman Bailey again for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Mountaineers up 43-38 when the extra point was made. 

With 4:10 left in the game, Landry Jones found Kenny Stills for a third touchdown to put Oklahoma ahead 44-43.  The Sooners went for a 2-point conversion to try to go up by three but it failed. 

Once WVU got the ball back, they once again gave it to Tavon Austin, who broke free for a 47-yard run.  Two plays later, Geno Smith threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey, making it his fourth score of the night.  Up by five, WVU once again went for two to try to go up a touchdown, but it failed. 

With one drive left in them, Landry Jones and the Oklahoma offense moved the ball down the field into the red zone.  The WVU defense stopped the Sooners on three-straight plays to force a fourth down from the 5-yard line.  With 24 seconds to go, Landry Jones found Kenny Stills for his fourth touchdown of the game to go up 50-49. 

This drive would decide the game, as Oklahoma won by the score of 50-49.  The Mountaineers couldn’t pull out the victory despite Tavon Austin having 572 all-purpose yards and Stedman Bailey having four touchdowns. 

2018 (Morgantown, WV) 

On WVU’s senior night, the Mountaineers and Sooners both had a lot on the line.  For Oklahoma, a win would keep them in the hunt for the College Football Playoffs.  For WVU, a win would clinch a berth to the Big 12 Championship in Dallas. 

Like 2012, this game would be an offensive shootout.  To start the scoring, WVU quarterback completed a pass to David Sills that was taken into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown. 

Oklahoma returned the favor, as quarterback Kyler Murray, who would go on win the Heisman Trophy, ran for a 55-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.  WVU drove down the field and scored on a 7-yard touchdown run from Martell Pettaway to give them a 14-7 lead.  Before the first quarter came to an end, Kyler Murray found his main target, Marquise Brown, for a 25-yard touchdown.  The game was tied 14-14 after a quarter. 

About halfway through the second quarter, Oklahoma took a 21-14 lead from a Trey Sermon touchdown from a yard out.  WVU answered, as Will Grier threw for another touchdown to David Sills, this time from 10 yards out in the corner of the end zone.  This tied the game at 21-21. 

Action would continue in the second quarter, Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks took off for a 68-yard touchdown to give the Sooners a 28-21 lead.  Oklahoma would keep the momentum going, as they scored on a defensive touchdown when Will Grier fumbled the football on a sack.  This touchdown put Oklahoma up 35-21.  WVU drove down the field before halftime and scored a 1-yard touchdown on a Kennedy McKoy run with 17 seconds to go.  Oklahoma led 35-28 at the break. 

Out of halftime, WVU tied the game when Will Grier threw a deep ball down field that was hauled in by Gary Jennings.  Jennings would run it in for a 57-yard touchdown.  After an Austin Seibert field goal, the Sooners took a 38-35 lead.  The Mountaineers went down the field after the Oklahoma field goal and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Will Grier.  This put WVU on top 42-38. 

As the third quarter seemed to be coming to an end, more big plays ensued.  With 45 seconds left in the third, Kyler Murray found Marquise Brown on what should have been a short screen pass, but after multiple missed tackles, it went for a 45-yard touchdown to put Oklahoma up 45-42.  Not long after, Will Grier threw another deep ball to Gary Jennings that was caught and ran in for 75-yard touchdown.  This gave the Mountaineers a 49-45 lead at the end of the third quarter. 

To answer the long touchdown from Grier, Kyler Murray came up clutch, as he threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Grant Calcaterra on fourth down to put Oklahoma back on top 52-49. 

The game would be decided on a series of plays on the next West Virginia drive.  WVU running back Kennedy McKoy ran the ball 70 yards to put the Mountaineers inside the 5-yard line, but the play was called back after a questionable personal foul penalty on T.J. Simmons when he blocked his man too hard out of bounds.  Three plays later, Will Grier was pressured and fumbled, and was picked up and returned for a second scoop-and-score touchdown.  This put the Sooners ahead 59-49. 

With 4:20 left in the game, WVU got back into it with a 17-yard touchdown from Martell Pettaway.  This touchdown cut the Oklahoma lead to 59-56.   

With 2:36 to go, Oklahoma was facing a fourth down at WVU’s 41-yard-line, and a stop from the WVU defense would have given the Mountaineers a prime chance to win.  After scrambling for a long time, Kyler Murray made a low throw to CeeDee Lamb that was caught for a first down.  This play sealed the 59-56 victory for Oklahoma. 

Saturday, the Mountaineers will travel down to Norman, Oklahoma to try to change the tide in the series against the Sooners.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit calling the action. 

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