MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The underdog drumbeat banged strong in the West Virginia team meeting room where a few Mountaineers playfully embraced the opinion of oddsmakers who have made Oklahoma a three-touchdown favorite for Saturday.

“We’re going to lose by 500 points, right?” joked senior safety Darwin Cook. “Or is it 60? Fifty? Twenty-one? Yeah, 21.”

Of course, Vegas isn’t alone in forecasting a Sooners romp.

“Everybody is. Everybody—even the people in Morgantown,” said senior nose guard Shaq Rowell. “Let’s be honest: Nobody is counting on us to win. There’s nothing like having that on your back. I’m ready. I like everybody saying we’re going to lose. More fuel for the fire.”

Rowell’s fire apparently was stoked a bit last weekend by fans left uneasy over West Virginia’s rather unimpressive 24-17 win over William & Mary. The Mountaineers trailed 17-7 at halftime and left the field to boos.

“I didn’t hear anything about it,” Rowell deadpanned. “I’m not going to repeat what I heard. I didn’t hear anything.”

Junior quarterback Paul Millard, whose older brother graduated from Oklahoma, said he was OK with his second career start taking place at historic Memorial Stadium, where the Sooners are anticipating an 88th consecutive sellout.

“Yeah, man, I love challenges. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Millard said. “A lot of people don’t believe in us, and we just want to go out there and prove people wrong.”

When your team is picked eighth in a 10-team league, there is ample opportunity for proving people wrong. Believers may be in short supply, but Cook knew at least one:

“My mama.”

Oklahoma also is breaking in a new quarterback, redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, who like Millard is gearing for start No. 2. Though his debut featured three touchdown passes, Knight did his most damaging work out of the shotgun option, running for 103 yards on 13 carries in a 34-0 spanking of Louisana-Monroe.

“He can run, he can throw, do all different things,” said Cook, setting up his punchline. “Guess everybody feels like he’s going to go for 250 yards. We’ll see on Saturday. What’s he going to be like, Jameis Winston?”

Rowell played along with that doomsday line: “If we don’t do our job, that kid is going to destroy us.”

Against William & Mary, the 305-pound Rowell plugged the middle for a career-high six tackles, and he joked that now he’s “looking forward to having 12 this weekend.”

“Nah, but seriously, I’m just looking forward to doing my job,” he said. “And if I don’t have a tackle and we come out with that W, I’ll be happy.”

Knight won OU’s starting job in preseason camp, outplaying the conventional choice, junior Blake Bell. With an arm that looked intermittently terrific and erratic, Knight completed 11-of-28 passes against Louisiana-Monroe, though Dana Holgorsen said the freshman’s throwing motion appeared sound.

“His completion percentage wasn’t very good, but when I watched the tape, he’s pretty good. He can throw,” Holgorsen said. “I would anticipate him figuring things out and being a very good quarterback for Oklahoma. Hopefully he doesn’t get things figured out this week.”

While much of the pregame questioning will focus on Knight’s dual-threat abilities, West Virginia outside linebacker Isaiah Bruce welcomes the prospect of watching Knight in motion.

“We’re going to bring pressure and make him try to beat us with his feet,” said Bruce. “First time, first Big 12 game. It’s a lot of pressure, so let’s get after him and give him more pressure to deal with.”



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  • Matt

    Why would you want to force the QB to run when he's already proven he CAN run? Why not sit back and force him to throw the ball to test if he actually can, he hasn't proven that yet.

  • No mas dana

    Darwin, sorry to break it to you, but Moma isn't always right.

    Oklahoma 55
    WVU 14

    Hope moma is there for you when you get back to Morgantown so she can tell you, "There, there now. Everything is gonna be alright."

    Take OU and give the points. Even if you are giving 30 points. OU is the "Lock of the Week" in Vegas.

  • Truthteller

    Wow it is amazing how some pea brain people watch one game and think they know how the whole season is going to be. Does anyone remember the 2005 season. WVU beats Syracuse 15-7 first game. WVU went on and ended up playing Georgia in the Sugar Bowl that year. You can't tell anything by just one game. Why are so many West Virginians so negative? Is it all the chemicals or coal dust in the air? Who knows? Look it is a sport. Youi don't define who you are as a person by what your sports team does. If you do, you need help. It is just a sport. Your character and moral behavior defines who you are. Football is just a game. GOT IT?

  • Bobby M

    YOU know its bad when YOUR OWN team thinks their gonna LOSE!

    Come on GUYS! Get it together! I'm ready SOONER now OR later!

    Rock N ROLL Rumble!

    • EPR

      Shut up

  • 1olewvufan

    I truly believe these two teams are more evenly matched than most people think. My biggest concern is the play of the WVU QBs.

    I believe WVU will win by 10.

    • EPR


  • must go

    Cmon all you your team!
    Just because we are not looking crisp as before is no reason to not support the Mountaineers.

    A true fan is there supporting regardless of rankings, hype, or record!

    Lets GOoooooo....Mountaineeeeerss!!

  • Bradly Lester

    Its college football anything can happen. Wvu can very well come out with a win or get blown out. I for one think this will be a good game.

  • wvajoker

    oh ye of little faith.

  • Keith

    WV 17-14

  • Dubv

    Is it me or is the team not taking OK seriously.. Joking after an embarrassing performance is no way to act. Especially since we're playing the big boys next week

    • Jay

      embarrassing performance??? 2 of their receivers made hi-lite reel catches, (you did watch the game right?) and our d pitched a shutout in the second half. And all we did was hand the ball off still could have scored 31.....some of you fans who became fans during the White, Slaton, Schmitt era are delusional.

      • bva24

        Delusion is being impressed with a 7 point win over Bill & Mary.

        The "what if" game cuts both ways. What if their D-Lineman made the pick on that awful screen pass Millard threw in the 3rd quarter? He waltzes into the end zone. What if their QB doesn't underthrow a wide open receiver by 10 yards on that trick play? That's 14 points B&M left out there.

        I forgot to mention the bonehead personal foul they got that killed a drive that was in WVU territory. Credit us for making them pay for that, but don't act like that it was an impressive win.

        This team is just not that good. Doesn't mean I don't want them to win. It is what it is. And this is a bad football team that lacks leadership from the coaching staff.

  • Chris

    WVU - 80
    OU - 0

  • big tom

    for sure, I am 100% behind this football team and coaching staff,, maybe i'm a little to honest sometimes, and some people just can't handle the truth.
    but for sure, I hope this team makes all eers, proud in Norman this sat. evening.
    Looking to the future, I see good things as long as we continue to recruit hard... we now have a staff that can recruit,, let's back em and be patient,,, this yr . will certainly be difficult, but we do have the staff in place to improve every game,,, go eers.

  • pghmountaineer

    Well I for one will be cheering for the Mounties. It's gonna be an uphill fight. One thing I do know, I don't beleive anyone stepping on the field Saturday in a WVU uniform is going into it thinking they're going to roll over and hand OU the game.
    I'll be with them, win or loose. This is a great opportunity to show the country that we belong on the same field.
    Some of you may have forgotten but Geno had a few games last year where I thought Dana should have sat him down because of his performance.
    So let's not write these guys off. I think they have a sense of pride that will prove they are not as bad as some of the so called "experts" think.
    Go Mounties!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MDWV70

    C'mon you all, look at are first game!!! I love the Mountaineers, but we are gonnna be 1 and 1 after 9/7 sorry i hope im wrong

  • WVU MA82

    Hey guys, does anyone think Blake Bell will actually be the quarterback for this Big Game?

    • EPR