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West Virginia out to end skid, saddle Sooners with fifth loss

Oct. 29, 2022; Ames, Iowa, USA;  Oklahoma head football coach Brent Venables reacts after his defense stopped an Iowa State drive in the fourth quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Des Moines Register-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma coach Brent Venables and West Virginia coach Neal Brown are trying to keep their teams in a positive mindset entering Saturday’s game between the Sooners and the Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.Va.

The Sooners enter the matchup following a 38-35 loss to Baylor that was Oklahoma’s fourth loss in six games.

“Sometimes it’s easy to sit outside and judge and say, ‘Well, the season, you lose your fourth game and the season’s over,'” Venables said. “That’s one way to look at it. To me, if you judge it that way, then when bad things happen in life, you just kind of pack it in. That doesn’t happen when you invest in it, invest in the game of football or any sport.”

Brown’s Mountaineers have dropped three consecutive games and four of their last five.

“The way I look at it is this — football problems, those are better than 99.9 percent of other people’s problems,” Brown said. “I’m not going to get too hung up on them. I hate it because the investment level’s high … and when things don’t go like you want them to go, that’s disappointing, but you always have next.”

West Virginia has never beaten the Sooners in Morgantown, and Oklahoma has won all nine meetings between the programs since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.

Brown said it will be important for his team to handle Oklahoma’s offensive tempo.

“They’re going to play really fast,” Brown said. “Obviously we had struggles with that against Texas Tech so we’ve got to be better there.”

Texas Tech blew out West Virginia, 48-10, on Oct. 22.

For Oklahoma, running the football figures to be a key.

The Sooners have the top rushing offense in the Big 12 at nearly 220 yards per game, while West Virginia is No. 4 in the league in rush defense, holding opponents to 137.3 yards per game.

Eric Gray is closing in on his first 1,000-yard season, having rushed for 902 yards and eight touchdowns on 140 carries.

“He’s been a stud,” Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said. “He’s been so consistent on and off the field. … Eric’s been a pro.”

–Field Level Media