Mountaineers set to face Oklahoma State at home

MORGANTOWN – Week five of the 2013 season finds West Virginia (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) looking to play spoiler as No. 11 Oklahoma State (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) opens league play at Milan Puskar Stadium at noon Saturday.

“We have Big 12 football this week,” third-year WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “The sun came up Sunday, and we went back to work. There are plenty of things to work on; we are all smart enough to understand that.”

Especially after a 37-0 loss to Maryland a week ago – the Mountaineers’ first shutout loss since a 35-0 defeat to Virginia Tech in 2001.

“We went out and had a good practice, and these kids are resilient,” continued the coach. “They are a lot more resilient than the coaching staff. We were pretty hard on ourselves, and that was the general message.”

The Mountaineers and Cowboys won’t be the only teams in action this week. Iowa State (0-2, 0-2 Big 12) got things rolling with a Thursday night matchup with Tulsa, a team that handed the Cyclones a 31-17 setback in 2012.

Iowa State and Tulsa met twice in 2012. The Cyclones won the first meeting 38-23 in Ames, Iowa, while Tulsa beat ISU in the Liberty Bowl.

Getting things started on Saturday will be the No. 11 Cowboys visiting Morgantown. OSU has won four straight games, dating back to the victory over Purdue in last year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. This is the longest winning streak since 11 straight wins from the 2010 Alamo Bowl through 2011’s defeat at Iowa State.

OSU has at least one touchdown drive of faster than two minutes in each of its last 25 games and in 41 of its last 42 contests.

The Cowboys produced 13 plays of 20 yards or more in a 55-34 win over the Mountaineers at Boone-Pickens Stadium last year.

“Oklahoma did some,” said Holgorsen, “but Oklahoma State is going to play faster than Oklahoma. Last year, Oklahoma was faster than anyone in the conference. Right now, Oklahoma State is trying to play faster than Oregon – that’s what I hear. We are going to have to defend it.

“If you think this week is fast, then next week at Baylor is even faster. We will go against each other in tempo this week, probably more than we already have. We need to get to terms with the tempo and force ourselves to play faster.”

Starting at the same time, Texas Christian University will look to bounce back from a disappointing, 20-10, loss to Texas Tech when the Horned Frogs (1-2, 0-1 Big 12) play host to SMU.

TCU holds a 45-40-7 edge over SMU in a series that began with a 43-0 TCU win in Fort Worth in 1915.

Closing out week five’s action will be a showdown of Top-25 teams as No. 12 Oklahoma travels to South Bend to take on No. 22 Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish went into Norman, Okla., a year ago and dealt a 30-13 setback to the Sooners en route to finishing 12-0 and earning a trip to the National Championship game against defending champion Alabama.

OU has put together an eight-game regular-season winning streak following that loss, and have not only outscored their foes by an average margin of 37.9-24.8 , but also have outgained those opponents by 127.3 yards per game.

The Sooners lead the Big 12 in total defense (291.3 ypg), third-down defense (12-44, 27.3 percent) and rush defense (100.7 ypg).

Taking the weekend off will be No. 18 Baylor (3-0, 0-0 Big 12), Kansas (2-1, 0-0 Big 12), No. 25 Texas Tech (4-0, 0-1 Big 12), Kansas State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) and Texas (2-2, 1-0 Big 12).

In other news from around the conference:

  • A total of 114 freshmen (true and redshirt) have seen action in the first four weeks of action.
  • The Big 12 is second among FBS leagues with 277.1 passing yards and 461.9 total offense yards a game.
  • The Big 12 is the only league with 50 percent of its teams in the Top 23 nationally for scoring defense.
  • The Big 12 has scored on defense or special teams every week this season, including on three occasions in week four.
  • Big 12 Players of the Week awards went to (offense) Jonathan Gray, Texas; (defense) Terrell Burt, Baylor, and Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas; and (special teams) Trevor Pardula, Kansas.