#KeysToTheGame: Trench battle could be tipping point between Cowboys and Mountaineers

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Can West Virginia find success on the ground while limiting Oklahoma State’s own rushing attack? That’s the obvious key to the Mountaineers match up with the Cowboys it’s also the most important.

A year ago the Old Gold and Blue could only amass 26 yards on the ground on 22 carries for an average of 1.2 yards a carry that didn’t get it done last year and it wont this year. The good news, of course, is that WVU is coming off of it most productive rushing performance in two years — 329 yards in the win over EKU, with Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield both going over 100 yards. In their win over Tulsa, the Pokes’ defense allowed the Golden Hurricane to run for 112 yards on 31 carries, for an average of 3.6 yards per carry.

While the Mountaineers struggled on the ground last year against the Cowboys, Jarrett Doege threw for a season-high 307 yards on the afternoon with a touchdown — but according to Neal Brown, it was missed opportunities in the red zone that really hurt the WVU offense. West Virginia was 7 of 8 in the red zone against EKU.

A year ago in Morgantown, the Mountaineers did a pretty good job of bottling up running back Chuba Hubbard although he did run for 106 yards on 26 carries, while also pulling in 7 passes for another 88 yards. West Virginia did, however, keep him out of the endzone and well below his season average coming into the game.

At times in their meeting with Tulsa, the Cowboy offensive line had a difficult time getting a good push off the ball. Controlling the line of scrimmage will be important for the Mountaineers, and Coach Brown has said he thinks the Stills brothers and Jeffery Pooler can play better than they did in the opener against the Colonels.

The Oklahoma State defense was strong on third down against Tulsa, not allowing them to convert on any of their 11 attempts. WVU was 8 of 13 in their opener, they’ll need to find a way to stay on the field and extend drives.

If the Mountaineers can control both lines of scrimmage and have success in the red zone, they may be able to snap their five game losing streak to OSU and pick up their first win in Stillwater since 2014.

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