Oklahoma St, W. Virginia try to keep up in Big 12

Oklahoma St, W. Virginia try to keep up in Big 12

Published Oct. 24, 2014 12:08 p.m. ET

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Oklahoma State's offense looks familiar to West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.

That's because the Cowboys still run basically the same system he ran at Oklahoma State when he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach there in 2010 - the same one that was good enough to get him hired as West Virginia's head coach the next year.

It's also the same system Holgorsen overcame in a 30-21 victory against the Cowboys last season in Morgantown.

''How much its changed with terminology? I don't know,'' Holgorsen said. ''But a lot of the plays they're running, a lot of the tempo they're using and a lot of the signals they're using are the same ones that I used when I was there.''


Holgorsen takes his 22nd-ranked Mountaineers (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) to Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) Saturday with hopes of staying within range of league leader Kansas State. To win, he believes his team must display the toughness of a Mike Gundy-coached Oklahoma State squad - toughness it demonstrated in a 41-27 upset win over then-No. 4 Baylor last Saturday.

''We were very physical,'' Holgorsen said. ''We were as physical on Saturday as we've been in the four years that I've been here. I'd like to think we started heading in the direction due to the fact that I was at Oklahoma State, and that was the mentality that existed there.''

Holgorsen believes his Mountaineers will stay focused after their big win against Baylor.

''We have a very experienced, older team that likes each other, plays hard for each other and understands what we're trying to accomplish,'' Holgorsen said. ''Really, what we're trying to accomplish is to win the next game. I don't know any other way of approaching it with the team.''

Here are some things to watch on Saturday:

TRICKY TRICKETT: Had West Virginia defeated Alabama or Oklahoma, West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett might be generating some Heisman hype. He ranks third nationally with 360.7 yards per game, and he has 15 touchdown passes to just five interceptions.

''He's a great quarterback who controls the game, knows a lot about the offense with his reads and certain things,'' Oklahoma State linebacker Ryan Simmons said. ''He just knows the game and what to do in certain situations and executes very well.''

GARMAN'S HELPERS: Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman has a strong arm, but he needs help. The Cowboys ran 39 times for just 126 yards in the 42-9 loss to TCU, and Garman completed just 10 of 25 passes for 132 yards.

Oklahoma State is the most sacked team in the Big 12 and averages just 3.7 yards per carry.

''I'm not trying to defend anybody, but if we don't run the ball better than we did Saturday and protect, then it is hard for him to operate,'' Gundy said.

WHITE RIGHT: West Virginia's star receiver Kevin White leads the nation with 145.7 yards receiving per game. He had eight catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns against Baylor.

Oklahoma State has the worst pass defense in the Big 12, surrendering 288.4 yards per game.

RETURN STARS: Two of the nation's best kickoff return men will be featured. West Virginia's Mario Alford averages 34.8 yards per return while Oklahoma State's Tyreek Hill averages 27.3. Hill leads the Big 12 in all-purpose yards.

UNHAPPY COWBOYS: Oklahoma State is coming off an embarrassing loss, but a homecoming game against a ranked team offers a chance to fix things.

''It's very important,'' Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns said. ''Things like that are going to happen. That's life, period; you're going to have ups and downs. You have to bounce back. You can't dwell on the past, so I think we're going to come out with a chip on our shoulder and you'll see us fight back.''


Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.