MORGANTOWN-The learning curve continues for West Virginia's defense on Saturday as the Mountaineers (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) travel to Stillwater, Okla., to take on the Cowboys from Oklahoma State University (5-3, 3-2) at 3:30 p.m. at Boone Pickens Stadium.
WVU's prevent unit had its moments in a 39-38 double-overtime loss to visiting Texas Christian University. The Horned Frogs were limited to only 126 yards on 45 rushes and freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin was held to 254 yards on 12-of-29 attempts with one interception.
But, one of those completions went for a 94-yard touchdown to Josh Boyce with 1:28 left on the clock. WVU's ensuing possession ended with a missed field goal with 18 ticks remaining as the two teams elected to head to overtime to decide the contest.
The defense again came up strong, forcing a field goal attempt by the Horned Frogs' Jaden Oberkrom which went wide right of its intended mark and giving WVU a chance to again pick up its third win of the season in the Big 12.
However, Tyler Bitancurt's 29-yard field goal attempt to win the game was blocked by TCU's Jason Verrett, forcing the two teams to head into a second extra period.
This time it was WVU's turn to see what it could do to break the deadlock and senior quarterback Geno Smith did just that when he connected with junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey for a 25-yard touchdown. Bitancurt's kick for the PAT was good and it appeared as if the old gold and blue would certainly break out of its two-game slump.
Big 12 Matchup
West Virginia (5-3, 2-3)
at Oklahoma State (5-3, 2-3)
Game time: 3:30 p.m. TV: ABC
Stadium: Boone Pickens Stadium
- Spread: Oklahoma State is a 7.5 point favorite
- Series: West Virginia leads, 2-1.
- Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network - (Tony Caridi - play-by-play, Dwight Wallace - analyst, Hoppy Kercheval - host, Jed Drenning - sideline). ESPN National Radio - (Bill Rosinski - play-by-play, David Norrie - analyst, Joe Schad - sideline). Satellite Radio Broadcast - The West Virginia - Oklahoma State game can be heard live on Sirius Channel 92 and XM 196. Live Statistics - WVUsports.com. Twitter Updates - Twitter.com/WVUSportsBuzz; WVUSportsScores
- Notes: This marks the fourth meeting between the two schools and the first between the two coaches. West Virginia defeated the Cowboys, 32-6, in 1928, in Morgantown, and 9-6, in Stillwater, in 1929. In the most recent meeting, Oklahoma State won 35-33 in the 1987 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
Once again, a defensive lapse, proved too much to overcome.
TCU scored on its first play when Brandon Carter found Corey Fuller all alone in the end zone on a reverse pass. TCU head coach Gary Patterson then elected to go for the win and was rewarded when Boykin threw a dart to Boyce in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Now, WVU finds itself in a near must-win situation as it travels to Stillwater.
Another setback and any hopes of playing in a New Year's Day bowl will be gone and the Mountaineers will be faced with the dilemma of having to beat preseason Big 12 favorite Oklahoma at home next week, winning at an always tough Iowa State over Thanksgiving, or needing a victory over Kansas on Senior Night just to be bowl eligible.
"You just have to take the things that we did good, and continue to do them and take the things that happened late in that game, like the communication part, where they had the 94-yard touchdown, and learn from that and keep getting better," said sophomore linebacker Shaq Petteway. "We know some of the things they (OSU) are going to do, and at the same time, they are going to do some things that will exploit us."
One of those will involve unleashing Big 12 rushing leader Joseph Randle against a West Virginia defense that is allowing 132.5 yards per game-fourth best in the Big 12.
"It's going to come down to matchups and who has the better players," said Randle, who leads the Big 12 with 116.8 yards per game. "That defense is not the same from what they ran here. But, as far as the coverages, the wide receivers should be very familiar with the stuff they are doing because our defense is like their secondary, so that's an advantage there."
Should Randle rush for 66-yards or more, he would become only the sixth rusher in OSU history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark twice.
"I thought last week was going to be the week I did it, but it looks like this week is going to be the week," said the runner. "I should be able to get 66 yards or I'm not doing my job right."
And, given WVU's inconsistency on defense, that number could come on one carry or it may not come at all.