NORMAN, Okla. - When West Virginia and Oklahoma meet tonight in what is expected to be a sweltering Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, neither will bear much of a resemblance to squads that met last November in Morgantown.
For Oklahoma, that's more a matter of choice than anything else.
For West Virginia, it's a matter of necessity. At least offensively, there was little choice involved.
The Mountaineers, fighting to regain some semblance of their high-powered, pass-heavy offense of a season ago, face a Sooners team that has remade itself on both sides of the ball. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. (ET) and will be televised nationally by Fox.
Temperatures in Oklahoma are expected to reach into the high 90s today and still could be close to 90 degrees at kickoff.
That's not likely to do anything to warm up West Virginia's offense, although after a vanilla week one performance against William & Mary, that's exactly what coach Dana Holgorsen is looking for tonight. Not only did the Mountaineers struggle to score just three touchdowns against an FCS opponent, they had to resort to running the football in order to do even that.
West Virginia passed the ball just 27 times in the opener and ran it 44. Seldom in Holgorsen's coaching career has an offensive attack tilted so heavily toward the run, and it's not something he particularly wants to see happen again.
"I don't care much about stats, but we have to be more balanced,'' Holgorsen said. "What the heck's going on here? I'm talking about balance and everybody says it's an air raid and we throw the ball 80 or 90 percent of the time. I'm talking about balance because we can't get the ball in the air 50 percent of the time.''
Much of that, of course, has to do with a change in the passer. In Holgorsen's first two seasons, Geno Smith finished his career by breaking every meaningful passing record on the West Virginia books. That's the kind of offense Holgorsen likes to run. He doesn't mind rushing the football, but he does seem to mind it being the primary mode of attack.
But until junior Paul Millard - or Florida State transfer Clint Trickett - prove they can do more than hand the ball off, that's the way it might have to be. Millard is expected to start again tonight, but if WVU's offense struggles Holgorsen likely won't be shy about inserting Trickett.
Regardless of who is quarterbacking, though, he has to be able to run the offense and throw the football.