OSU-West Virginia: Key Matchups & Prediction

Dana Holgorsen returns to OSU on Saturday

Oklahoma State's Homecoming game was played on Oct. 20 when the Cowboys downed Iowa State 31-10 in front of the Cowboys faithful. Thus, Saturday's game with West Virginia could be called Homecoming, Part II as former offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen and longtime assistant coach Joe DeForest lead West Virginia into Stillwater for the Mountaineers first Big 12 clash with the Cowboys.

Besides Holgorsen and Defo, West Virginia staff members returning to Stillwater are running backs coach Robert Gillespie, quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital, former Cowboys defensive back Andrew McGee, who is a graduate assistant for the Mountaineers, and former OSU graduate assistant Jeff Horocks.

Happy Homecoming to all former Oklahoma State coaches and staffers!

1. OSU Safeties Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary
and Linebackers Shaun Lewis and Lyndell Johnson
vs. WVU Inside Receiver Tavon Auston and Wide Receiver Stedman Bailey
Forget the corners as the Cowboys will have Brodrick Brown and somebody else covering. Look for Holgorsen to maneuver around some with his formations to aim for a match up with one of his rock-star receivers against Justin Gilbert.

The Cowboys know the reads on the option routes so they could conceivably steer the Maintaineers receivers where they want them to go. Remember, the inside receivers generally have more options, and Austin will be tough.

The secondary could benefit from a really good pass rush as well. Like any quarterback, Geno Smith is not as accurate when feeling pressure. The Cowboys will hope to limit Austin and Bailey, who have caught 146 of 257 passes this season (that number is 188 of 257 passes when you add J.D. Woods).

That is not enough versatility in the offense as Holgorsen steams when there are not at least six receivers catching a good number of passes. Slow this crew down early, limit the big plays and it could end up being an impressive defensive performance.
Edge: WVU Receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey

2. OSU Defensive Ends Nigel Nicholas, Ryan Robinson,
Cooper Bassett, and Tyler Johnson
vs. WVU Offensive Tackles Quinton Spain and Curtis Feight
If the Cowboys are to get pressure it will probably come from the defensive ends, as they are good enough to get around the offensive tackles and get to Smith. West Virginia has only allowed 13 sacks so far this season.

Oklahoma State has 15 sacks, but this may be a good matchup for the Cowboys because their speed off the edge looks to be a problem for the Mountaineers tackles. It needs to be as Smith struggled in the two games where West Virginia gave up four sacks, including Kansas State. Spain weighs 334 pounds and Feight checks in at 317, both big, big bodies.
Edge: OSU Defensive Ends Nicholas, Robinson, Bassett, and Johnson

3. OSU Inside Receiver Josh Stewart and Wide Receiver Charlie Moore
vs. WVU Corners Ishmael Banks and Pat Miller and Free Safety Karl Joseph
The West Virginia defensive problems don't begin and end in the secondary, but that area of the defense is a part of the struggles. They have been part of a group that has allowed five 300-yard plus passing days, including 428 yards by Marshall, 581 yards by Baylor, 508 yards by Texas Tech, and 333 yards by Kansas State.

Those numbers are all season highs for Baylor's Nick Florence, Texas Tech's Seth Doege and Kansas State's Collin Klein. The Cowboys have been patchwork in the receiving corps, but Stewart and Moore are the guys most relied on, and they have to be catching passes to unlock the offense to include the other receivers.

Our guess is that Clint Chelf draws the start at quarterback for the Cowboys. He and Moore are good friends and almost have a sixth sense about being able to connect in the passing game. The West Virginia secondary has had a hard time covering receivers and making tackles after the catch.
Edge: OSU Receivers Josh Stewart and Charlie Moore

OSU vs. West Virginia Prediction
If someone is looking for a hunch reasoning on Oklahoma State beating West Virginia then feed on this: every time ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben has put OSU on his upset alert the Cowboys have won by two touchdowns or more.

That's your hunch reasoning, but your sound reasoning is the Cowboys are at home and despite their revolving door injuries at quarterback they are more talented and deep in their depth on both sides of the ball than West Virginia.

It is weird to say they will wear West Virginia down but that is exactly what they need to do. The performance at wide receiver is critical. The quarterback needs to continue to produce, no matter who it is. Finally, the Cowboys need to be able to run the football. They outgained Kansas State last week, but lack of run success and turnovers trumped that yardage advantage.

Oklahoma State 38, West Virginia 27

Week 11 Predictions
No. 22 Texas Tech 35, Kansas 23

No. 17 Texas 24, Iowa State 20

No. 12 Oklahoma 59, Baylor 21

No. 2 Kansas State 37, TCU 13

Last Week's Predictions
No. 24 Oklahoma State 31, No. 2 Kansas State 28
Actual Score: 44-30 Kansas State

No. 12 Oklahoma 27, Iowa State 12
Actual Score: 35-20 Oklahoma

No. 24 West Virginia 35, TCU 28
Actual Score: 39-38 (2OT) TCU

Baylor 31, Kansas 21
Actual Score: 41-14 Baylor

No. 18 Texas Tech 42, No. 23 Texas 20
Actual Score: 31-22 Texas

Last Week: 2-3 SU/2-3 ATS

Record: SU 47-11/ATS 32-17 (Games involving FCS teams don't have point spreads.)

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