MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The nattering nabobs of negativism came out in unfiltered bluster after WVU managed only a teetering tidbit of trivial triumph against William & Mary. One of the few sure-fire victories on this season’s schedule remained a tussle into the final three minutes before the Mountaineers survived for a win that was immediately filed under “meh.”
Now, ready or not, comes the Week 2 trip to Soonerland, where Bud Wilkinson won 47 straight games, Barry Switzer stockpiled trophies atop scandal and John Blake nearly crippled the empire. Though Bob Stoops restored Oklahoma to its national championship perch, the Sooners now occupy an uncomfortable rut—four seasons removed from contending for the top spot, and not much indication that they can avoid a fifth.
Oklahoma sits No. 16 in the AP poll and sounds genuinely pleased by a 34-0 trouncing of Louisiana-Monroe—the type of outcome to warrant its own “meh” from more ambitious Sooners teams of the past. Pounding a Sun Belt team may be a start, but this crew is still only one game removed from being ginned in the Cotton Bowl, and it marches behind a redshirt freshman quarterback, Trevor Knight, who’s capable of shearing the Mountaineers or gagging hard on his first prime-time platform.
The latter would involve West Virginia bringing significantly more pressure than it did in Week 1, and moreover, reverting to a level of defense it hasn’t shown since 2011. The three-touchdown spread feels enormous, but hardly unreasonable, given WVU’s reliance on personnel that has yet shown more potential than productivity.
West Virginia’s coaches seemingly possess an inkling their squad isn’t the eighth-best in a 10-team league, and they’re irked by perceptions the program has been in freefall mode since last October. Witness Dana Holgorsen on Thursday night, describing the OU game as “a chance to prove to the nation that we’re not just an afterthought.”
Funny, because on a slightly grander scale, Stoops and his program are trying to prove the same.
Pick: Oklahoma 28-17
Ranking the other Big 12 games: