Bits and Bytes: WVU - Oklahoma

To help pass the time until kickoff of tonight's West Virginia - Oklahoma football game, we serve up our last bits of information and analysis.

ON THE MARCH

West Virginia has recorded 33 first downs in two of its three games to date, ringing up 33 new markers against both Towson and Maryland. That total is tied for fourth on the list of most first downs in a game in WVU history. Can you name any of the top three, and the opponents they came against?


SERIOUSLY?

Oklahoma's record of achievement is as good as any school in the nation, especially during the Bob Stoops era. That's why it's a surprise to see teams such as UTEP, Houston, Army and Akron listed as “Quality Foes” in OU's roster of upcoming non-conference opponents.

The Sooners can, and should, list and highlight their remarkable achievements under Bob Stoops, and also highlight their illustrious history. (Forty-seven consecutive wins under Bud Wilkinson is still unreal.) But Akron? UTEP? That's a stretch, guys.


ALL-TIMER

Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicut is just eight points away from breaking DeMarco Murray’s all-time Sooner scoring record of 390 points. Strangely enough, Mountaineer fans might be cheering for him to do it, as he’s more likely to get the required points if he’s kicking field goals instead of extra points.

Discussion of him breaking the record solely on extra points will not be entertained in this space.


RANKINGS COMPARISON

In some 34 statistical categories, Oklahoma is no worse than fifth in the Big 12 conference in 23 of them while West Virginia is in the upper half of the league rankings in just 13. While this is admittedly a very rough statistical measure, it does speak to the balance of the Sooners, and the fact that they don't appear to have a major weakness that could be easily exploited.


HIDDEN WEAPONS

West Virginia's Cody Clay and Oklahoma's Blake Bell won't see the ball a lot in this game, but their contributions might have a big impact on the outcome. Clay is a consummate team guy, who approaches every task with tremendous zeal and dedication. He blocks well for both the run and the pass, and is clearly a leader on the team. Bell, who could have pouted after his move from quarterback to tight end, has apparently taken to that job without complaint. He has grabbed five passes for 62 yards and a score this year.

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While neither is likely to catch 10 balls or record 100 yards receiving on Saturday night, either could provide a bit lift to his team's attack. As they aren't primary receivers, either has the chance to slip out into an open area for an important catch – one that just might determine the difference in the outcome. How different would it be, if the game turns into the expected shootout, to have a throwback player contribute one of the deciding plays of the contest?


GREAT STARTS

Oklahoma’s current streak of 45 consecutive wins when leading at the half is partly built on their excellent first quarter starts. The Sooners have scored 55 points in the opening period this year – more than twice as many as they have recorded in any other quarter.


TRIVIA ANSWER

In 1980, WVU had 34 first downs against Colorado State, and followed that 13 years later with 35 against Syracuse. For the all time record, though, you have to retreat 70 years from the game against the Orange to find the standard of 36, set against Washington & Lee in 1923.


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