WVU opponents: Game 10, Oklahoma
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 20th in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.
Checking them out
On anyone's list of West Virginia top football victories of the past 30 years - or forever, for that matter - Oklahoma is one of the few teams on there twice. The 41-27 win in Norman in 1982 kick-started the Don Nehlen era and the 48-28 blowout in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl was, well, cathartic.
Now the teams get to play every year. Don't expect the Mountaineers to sneak up now.
That's not likely to happen this season, not with OU and WVU picked to finish 1-2 in the Big 12.
Why is Oklahoma so highly regarded going into this season? Well, there are reasons at almost every position, not the least of which is quarterback Landry Jones. The 6-foot-4, 218-pound senior threw for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns last season and would have been a first-round draft pick had he come out, but returned to try to win a national championship.
There are issues on offense, what with the lack of an elite running back and not much depth beyond the first line of receivers, but working behind an offensive line that might be the best in the country - 11 sacks in almost 600 passing attempts last season and 600-plus yards in six games by walk-on tailback Dominique Whaley - can mask most problems. And those front-line receivers are excellent, led by Kenny Stills and highly touted, 6-foot-2, 200-pound freshman Trey Metoyer.
The defense? Well, now that's always the question. The Sooners lost most of their pass rush, but return virtually everyone else, including a group of cornerbacks and safeties who are among the most athletic and versatile in the country.
The biggest addition to the defense, though, might be Mike Stoops. Bob's brother is back after a failed turn as the coach at Arizona and the Sooners haven't been the same since he left in 2003.
West Virginia has more history with Oklahoma than with any other team in the Big 12, having played the Sooners four times. Still, this will be OU's first trip to Morgantown. The teams have played three times in Norman (1958, 1978 and 1982) and the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. ... Oklahoma has two open dates in the first five weeks of the season and then plays nine straight without a break.
Date Opponent 2011
Sept. 1 at UTEP DNP
Sept. 8 Florida A&M DNP
Sept. 22 Kansas State* W 58-17
Oct. 6 at Texas Tech* L 38-41
Oct. 13 vs. Texas* (Dallas) W 55-17
Oct. 20 Kansas* W 47-17
Oct. 27 Notre Dame DNP
Nov. 3 at Iowa State* W 26-6
Nov. 10 Baylor* L 38-45
Nov. 17 at West Virginia* DNP
Nov. 24 Oklahoma State* L 10-44
Dec. 1 at TCU* DNP
* Big 12 Conference games
- By Dave Hickman