The Mountaineers came to Norman on a warm day with a beautiful blue sky. Despite the picturesque weather, West Virginia was faced with playing a storm of offensive talent as they squared off against questionably the best offense in the country. The match up looked to be a lopsided affair, Oklahoma came in as a 33 point favorite and for good reason. The OU offense entered the game ranked first in the country in six different categories, including total offense and yards per play. West Virginia faced a daunting task on the prairie as the team and Coach Brown looked to pull off an improbable upset.
Austin Kendall, WVU’s quarterback, came into the game with something to prove as a former Sooner himself. The signal caller came to Morgantown after Jalen Hurts transferred from Alabama to become the Oklahoma starter. The homecoming looked improbable though as Kendall was injured during the first quarter of the Iowa State game and was listed as questionable to play all week. It wasn’t till Thursday that Coach Brown finally announced that he would start and have his chance at redemption in Norman.
Despite the WVU defense forcing a three and out on OU’s first possession, the Sooner offense got off to a fast start. They would take a two touchdown lead in the first quarter as Hurts completed all six of his pass attempts, including two for touchdowns.
There would be a flicker of hope as time literally ran out, with one second left on the clock in the first, Coach Brown would roll the die. Punter Josh Growden executed a pass on a fake punt to Dante Bonamico for seven yards and an all important first down. A few plays later, facing fourth and six, Kendall would connect with TJ Simmons for a 38 yard touchdown, making it 14-7 for OU.
The following drive Kennedy Brooks would finish a seven play drive for Oklahoma with a nine yard touchdown. A quick fruitless offensive possession by WVU gave OU the ball right back. Hurts would continue his Heisman like performance as he finished off a three play drive, scrambling for a touchdown after alluding WVU pressure in the pocket.
Things were looking bleak, the Sooners’ offense looked unstoppable and WVU’s offense had failed to gain traction against OU’s defense. With just over three minutes left in the half, Kendall and the Mountaineers would get the ball back, down 28-7. Desperately needing a score, the former Sooner, Kendall, drove his team down the field, finally capitalizing as he scrambled around before completing a touchdown pass to Simmons, narrowing OU’s margin to 14 at the half.
The late first half heroics of West Virginia were short lived. OU started with the ball and didn’t look back as their first two possessions finished with touchdowns. The following possession Sam James mistakenly fair caught the ball deep inside WVU’s own territory, putting the offense in a perilous situation. Oklahoma forced a three and out and then blocked Growden’s punt, recovering it for a touchdown to extend their lead to 49-14.
From there things would only get worse for the Mountaineers. Unable to score or hold OU off of the score board. The defense was severely tested all game and things magnified in the second half. The Sooners would amass a daunting 560 yards of total offense in route to a 52-14 final.
Austin Kendall finished the game 15 of 31 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. TJ Simmons led WVU with six catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The struggles in the run game continued for the Mountaineers as the team gained a meager 51 yards on the ground.
Defensively WVU was forced to move players around due to injuries and suspensions. Josh Norwood moved to corner to replace the injured Keith Washington, who was out for the second straight week. Kerry Martin Jr. got the start at safety during the shuffle of players. Corner is a position of familiarity for Norwood who started there in 2018. Hakeem Bailey was able to return at corner for the second half, following his suspension for targeting against Iowa State. Unfortunately the adjustment wasn’t able to slow down the Sooners.
Jalen Hurts continued his highlight reel season, only adding to his resume for the Heisman Trophy. He completed 16 of 17 passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns. Additionally he led the team in rushing, gaining 92 yards and two touchdowns.
West Virginia will next be in action on Halloween as they travel to Waco, Texas to take on the undefeated Baylor Bears.