West Virginia football lost to No. 17 Oklahoma Saturday night in a 52-20 beatdown, and the Mountaineers’ Big 12 title hopes are likely gone with the Oklahoma wind that came sweeping down the plain.
WVU (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) is now 0-14 on the road when allowing 30 points or more in the Neal Brown era. It was also the second time Brown’s Mountaineers allowed more than 50 points to Oklahoma (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) in the last five years.
With the loss, WVU is one of eight teams in the Big 12 with at least three conference losses, and it falls out of the top-third of the Big 12 rankings.
The Mountaineers scored on their first drive of the day for their third-straight game, but their opening drive ended up accounting for almost a third of the team’s total first-half offense. Junior quarterback Garrett Greene (10-for-27, 154 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) marched WVU 75 yards down the field on eight plays for a scoring drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by CJ Donaldson to mark Donaldson’s eighth-straight game with a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
They gained just 13 total yards on the next five drives that consisted of three punts, a missed field goal and a turnover on downs. WVU’s turnover on downs came after three-straight fruitless attempts inside Oklahoma’s one-yard line in the second quarter.
While the WVU offense struggled to get in rhythm, Oklahoma rattled of five-straight scoring drives with four touchdowns and a field goal. Sooner quarterback Dillon Gabriel accounted for four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) with 226 passing yards and 33 rushing yards in the first half alone.
Gabriel (23-for-36, 423 passing yards, 50 rushing yards) finished the night with eight total touchdowns (five passing, three rushing). It was the first time in Oklahoma football history a quarterback accounted for eight touchdowns.
By halftime, Oklahoma led 31-14 after the Mountaineers finally punched in another score on a three-yard touchdown pass from Greene to tight end Kole Taylor. The Sooners outgained WVU 371-212 despite the Mountaineers holding the ball for over three more minutes in the first half.
Gabriel and Oklahoma receiver Drake Stoops crushed any desire that the Carter score gave the WVU sideline early in the second half.
The Sooners started the second half with the ball, and Gabriel found Stoops on a 60-yard pitch-and-catch in which Stoops broke multiple WVU arm-tackle attempts on the way to an impressive score. Less than 90 seconds into the half, Oklahoma led 38-14.
Early in the third quarter, WVU’s subtle heartbeat became more pronounced. The Mountaineers responded with a touchdown of their own on a three-yard connection between Greene and Devin Carter (three receptions, 67 yards, one touchdown), and then WVU stymied the Sooner offense for its first three-and-out of the night while down 38-20.
If the Mountaineers were to build their comeback, a touchdown following their biggest stop of the night was a necessity.
Instead, Greene threw his first interception in three weeks on a 3rd-and-23 pass to Carter, and the Sooners turned the pick into a score and their biggest lead (45-20) of the night on another Gabriel-Stoops score.
They connected again for another their third scoring play of the night in the fourth quarter for a 52-20 lead, and Gabriel scampered for his third rushing touchdown of the night to hit the game-sealing 59-20 score.
Three Oklahoma skill-position players earned over 115 yards from scrimmage Saturday night: running back Gavin Sawchuck (22 carries, 135 yards), wide receiver Nic Anderson (four receptions, 119 yards) and Stoops (10 receptions, 164 yards, three touchdowns).
Oklahoma (646 yards) nearly doubled WVU’s total offensive output (330), and the Sooners (8.5 yards per play) dominated the Mountaineers (4.7 yards per play) from an efficiency standpoint.
In crunch-time, the Mountaineers converted just 6-of-20 third-or-fourth down attempts.
The Mountaineers will now attempt to work their way up the bowl-game ladder after qualifying for a postseason game with their sixth win of the season last week over BYU. WVU hosts Cincinnati next week before traveling to Baylor to finish the season.