Strength of Schedule: West Virginia

Mountaineers come to Norman looking for first Big 12 upset of the Sooners

For the second year in a row, Sooners Illustrated breaks down Oklahoma’s toughest games for the upcoming season. The rating system is based on the importance of a win, the strength of the opponent and a general idea of how key the game will be in terms of scheduling and performance.

It starts with the easiest game and ends up with the toughest.

6. West Virginia

Knock on wood. The Mountaineers still haven’t beaten the Sooners in Big 12 play. It’s been close, but Oklahoma is still pitching a shutout against West Virginia. This probably won’t be the year, but then again, you never know. West Virginia is playing without its best two offensive players from last year. Quarterback Clint Trickett is gone, and receiver Kevin White will be playing on Sundays next season.

2014 record: 7-6

Last year vs. OU: 45-33, Oklahoma

Why this game is dangerous: It seems likes Skyler Howard is Trickett’s set incumbent, but he’ll be making his first start just four weeks – and three games – before playing the Sooners in the Big 12 Conference opener. Howard could be the reason Oklahoma loses. It’s all about whether or not he’ll be ready. If Howard can make the kind of surprise that TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin did last year, then the Sooners could be in trouble.

Players to watch: The Mountaineers aren’t going to play a very diverse defensive set when the two teams square off. Sterling Shepard will be locked down, potentially with double coverage after more than 100 yards last season. So keep an eye on Dede Westbrook or Mark Andrews. The fourth game of the season could be a chance for one of the Sooners’ secondary weapons to shine. Then again, it could always be the “Samaje Perine Show” again.

Prediction:First-year quarterback in his first big game and in a major environment, it’ll be tough to think that Howard will be fully ready. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s offense will have a full non-conference slate to get ready. There’s a chance Oklahoma is looking ahead to Texas and Kansas State in the coming two weeks, but after halftime, there shouldn’t be a problem. Oklahoma rolls early and lets off the game, 38-17.

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