Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy views experience in close games as the potential vital point of separation when the No. 11 Cowboys take on unranked West Virginia Saturday afternoon in a Big 12 clash in Morgantown, W. Va.
“This will be a fourth-quarter game,” Gundy said. “We need to get to the fourth quarter with these guys.”
Gundy’s Cowboys (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) won their first three games — nonconference affairs against Missouri State, Tulsa and Boise State — by a total of 13 points. Oklahoma State began Big 12 play defeating Kansas State by 11 and Baylor by 10 before notching a comeback win over Texas.
The only blemish this season for the Cowboys is a 24-21 loss to Iowa State.
West Virginia beat Iowa State 38-31 last week after getting its first league win, 29-17 over TCU.
“They’re playing really well right now,” Brown said of the Mountaineers (4-4, 2-3) “and, hopefully, we can get in that position to where the experience that we have had in five or six games should help us, I would think, because we’ve been there.
“We need to put ourselves in a position where we’re in a competitive game in the fourth quarter.”
The Mountaineers might not mind a fourth-quarter game. WVU rallied from a 31-24 deficit with two fourth-quarter touchdowns while their defense came up with a key stop at the goal line to keep the Cyclones scoreless over the final 15 minutes.
“They could be the best 4-4 team in the country,” Gundy said. “Particularly playing really, really well at home, playing really good defense. They’re very disruptive.”
The Cowboys will challenge that defense with a running attack spearheaded by Jaylen Warren.
“Jaylen Warren runs a physical as anybody in our league,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “The Big 12 this year is blessed with a lot of super talented running backs, and here’s another one.”
Warren ranks in the top five in rushing in the league with an average of 106.3 yards per game.
“He runs the ball angry,” Brown said. “He is a violent runner. He gets down hill. He breaks tackles. He’s impressive.”
West Virginia will counter with the league’s most productive passer and a running back coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
Jarret Doege threw for 370 yards against Iowa State and averages 258.9 passing yards a game. Leddie Brown backed up his 111-yard rushing performance in the win over TCU with 109 against Iowa State.
Brown confirmed that the Mountaineers will be without veteran tight end Mike O’Laughlin, who has 11 catches in five games. Brown said that O’Laughlin and junior corner Nicktroy Fortune will miss the rest of the season because of lower body injuries.
TJ Banks started in O’Laughlin’s spot last week and Charles Woods started at corner for Fortune and was credited with four tackles and a pass breakup.
West Virginia great Major Harris will become the fifth Mountaineer to have his number retired in a ceremony after the first quarter of Saturday’s game.
–Field Level Media