Preview: West Virginia - Oklahoma

WVU looks for their second BCS bowl game victory in three years while the Sooners try to end a three game losing streak at the same level.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: OU 2-1-0
Wed, 1/2/08 8:00 pm
Glendale, AZ

University of Phoenix Stadium (73,000)
Record: 10-2
BCS: 9th
Last Game
Pitt L 13-9

Click for Glendale, Arizona Forecast
Record: 11-2
BCS : 4th
Last Game
Miss W 38-17
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule
First Meeting: 1958
Last Meeting: 1982
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule

Injuries:

WVU - Adam Bednarik (Academics) Out, Mike Bilokonsky (Academics) Out, James Ingram (Back), Out

OU - Adron Tennell (Knee) Out, DeMarco Murray (Knee) Out, Reggie Smith (Toe) Out, Lendy Holmes (Academics) Out, John Williams (Achilles) Out, DeMarcus Granger (Disciplinary) Out

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. OU defense

The Sooner defense has been lead this season by All-Everything middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (6-0, 238). The junior leads the team with 142 tackles, some 57 tackles more than Lewis Baker, who holds second place on the list. The Oklahoma native also has 9.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, four forced fumbles and three interceptions.

Joining Lofton at linebacker will be Lewis Baker (6-2, 210) and Ryan Reynolds (6-2, 231). Baker and Reynolds have combined for 142 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries.

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Game Info
WVU 10-2, 5-2
OU 11-2, 7-2
Wed, 1/2/08 8:00 pm
University of Phoenix Stadium
Series: OU 2-1-0
TV: FOX
Matt Vasgersian - play-by-play,
Terry Donahue - analysis
Pat Haden - analysis
Laura Okmin - sideline
USA: WVU 9th -OU 3rd
Line: OU -14
Anchoring the defensive line is sophomore Auston English (6-3, 253). English leads the team with 13 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks. The quick English will be challenge for the WVU offensive line and for Pat White his read on the defensive end.

Joining English on the line will be Gerald McCoy (6-4, 291) and Alonzo Doston (6-4, 251). The duo has teamed for 62 tackles and 7.5 sacks on the season.

The Oklahoma defensive backfield has taken a hit in recent weeks but there is still plenty of talent to replace Reggie Smith and Lendy Holmes, who will not play.

Nic Harris (6-3, 226), the starting free safety, was named to the All-Big 12 team and was second on the team with 9.5 tackles for a loss. The junior was also a nominee for the Ronnie Lott Award, presented annually to college football's defensive I.M.P.A.C.T. player. I.M.P.A.C.T. is an acronym for: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community, and Tenacity.

Joining Harris at safety will be D.J. Wolfe (5-11, 201). Wolfe was named All-Big 12 second-team by the coaches and Associated Press this season, racking up 83 tackles and four interceptions.

Manning the cornerback spots will be Marcus Walker (5-10, 197) and Dominique Franks (6-0, 187). Walker was named All-Big 12 honorable mention by the coaches and has combined with Franks with 46 tackles on the season.

By The Numbers :

WVU is ranked 19th in total offense (450.50 yds/game), fourth in rushing offense (292.92 yds/game) and 113th in passing offense (157.58 yds/game)

OU is ranked 18th in total defense (324.00 yds/game), 8th in rushing defense (91.92 yds/game) and 68th in passing defense (232.08 yds/game).

Advantage: Push

WVU defense vs. OU offense

The Sooner offense is lead by freshman signal caller Sam Bradford (6-4, 214). Bradford has completed 70.1% of his passes (216-308) for 2879 yards including 34 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. The Oklahoma native owns a ridiculous passing rating of 180.53, which leads the nation.

On the receiving end of many of those 34 touchdowns is a talented group of receivers. Leading the Sooners in receiving is Juanquin Iglesias (6-0, 202) with 854 yards on 60 catches including four touchdowns. Joining Iglesias at receiver will be Malcomb Kelly (6-4, 219) who has hauled in 49 passes for 821 yards and nine touchdowns.

Even with Iglesias and Kelly as weapons, the WVU defense will also need to key on tight end Jermaine Gresham (6-5, 263). Greshman is a lethal red-zone weapon and leads the Sooners with 11 touchdown receptions.

Starting in the backfield for the Sooners will be group of talented running backs. Patrick Allen (6-1, 196) leads the Sooners with 927 yards on 159 carries (an average of 5.8 yards per tote). The senior has reached paydirt eight times on the ground and one time through the air.

Teaming with Allen will be sophomore Chris Brown (5-10, 202). Brown is third on the team with 561 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. He also knows the way to the end zone, as he has scored eight touchdowns this year.

Without a doubt this will be the best offensive line that the Mountaineers have faced all season. All Americans, five star recruits, size, athletic ability, you name it, this unit has it. Starting at left tackle will be Phil Loadholt, who is definitely at load at 6-9 and 352 pounds. Loadholt is a first-year player that transfered from Oklahoma from Garden City Community College, where he was two-time junior college All-American.

Starting next to Loadholt will be Duke Robinson (6-5, 352). Robinson has been named All-American for the 2007 season and poses obvious matchup problems for the WVU defensive line.

Rounding out the offensive line will be center Jon Cooper (6-2, 276), right guard Brandon Walker (6-3, 307) and right tackle Branndon Braxton (6-5, 325). They complete a massive unit that will look to overwhelm West Virginia's defensive front with size and strength.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked fourth in total defense (291.92 yds/game), 16th in rushing defense (107.58 yds/game) and 12th in passing defense (184.33 yds/game).

OU is ranked 18th in total offense (451.23 yds/game), 30th in rushing offense (191.77 yds/game) and 37th in passing offense (259.46 yds/game).

Advantage: OU

WVU special teams vs. OU special teams

The Sooners have been excellent in all phases of special teams. The starting kicker, Garrett Hartley (5-8, 204) has connected on 10 of 12 field goals, with a long of 53 yards, and has made 70-75 extra points for 100 points scored on the season.

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Handling the punting duties will be junior Mike Knall (5-9, 192). Hall, a Texas native has averaged an impressive 43 yards per punt with half of his 20 punts being fair caught, downed inside the 20 yard-line, or landing in the endzone.

With the season ending injury to Demarco Murray, Jauquin Iglesias, the team's leading receiver and leader in all purpose yards with 120.9 yards per game, will be the deep return threat. The junior has averaged 28.7 yards on 22 returns this season.

Returning Pat McAfee's punts will be reshirt freshman Dominique Franks. Franks is averaging 10.3 yards on on 12 punt returns in 2007.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 34th in net punting (36.67 yds/punt), 35th in kick returns (22.66 yds/return) and 30th in punt returns (11.24 yds/return).

OU is ranked 19th in net punting (37.44 yds/punt), 1st in kick returns (27.64 yds/return) and 79th in punt returns (7.79 yds/return)

Advantage: OU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Darius Reynaud

On Defense: Reed Williams

Prediction:

Could the Mountaineers have had a worse December in sports? West Virginia loses a chance at the national championship by laying an egg against Pitt, the head coach leaves for another team, the men's basketball team falls in two overtimes to the Sooners and the women's basketball team drops a shocker to Indiana. Anything else? Unfortunately, yes, as the gridiron Mountaineers are now matched up with probably the best football team in the nation in the Oklahoma Sooners. This will be a fired up Sooner team after losing the Fiesta Bowl last season to Boise State, not two mention losing their last three BCS bowl games ('07 Fiesta, '05 Orange and '04 Sugar Bowl).

Interm head coach Bill Stewart has done an excellent job keeping this team together, but positive thinking can only take you so far and then talent takes over. WVU's emotional rollercoaster of a season will end on Wednesday night in Phoenix, unfortunately it will not be the Mountaineers feasting on chips and salsa.

WVU - 10 OU - 42


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