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NORMAN, Okla. — The Mountaineers went toe-to-toe with No. 4 Oklahoma, but in end, the outcome was the same as West Virginia’s other four trips to Norman since joining the Big 12 in 2012 — a loss.

The final outcome was much closer than the others as OU needed a last-second field goal to pull out a 16-13 victory, but still WVU left Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on the short end..

Atmosphere — On a cloudless night in Norman, where during the day you could see for miles and miles on the flat plains of central Oklahoma, it was a very nice setting for college football.

The Mountaineers have been very fortunate throughout the 2021 season, as Mother Nature has shined on them for each of their first four games. Oklahoma Memorial Stadium drew a good crowd Saturday, but it was far from full.

The upper decks had plenty of empty seats, which is surprising for the No. 4 team in the country.

Admittedly, OU fans were probably a bit burned out since they spent a great deal of vigor last week in the renewal of their rivalry with Nebraska.

Still, in all, it was a nice game atmosphere. On top of that, few do tailgating better than the Sooner faithful, who have been attracted to national championship-level OU football dating back over a century.

It wasn’t the most frenzied stadium, but it still was a very nice environment. Grade — B+

Offense — West Virginia was outstanding at the beginning (17-play, 75-yard TD drive taking 9:07) and end (9-play, 41-yard field goal drive taking the period’s final 2:16) of the first half, though in WVU’s four possessions in between, it managed just 47 total yards and no points.

Still, the Mountaineers took a 10-7 lead into the locker room at the midway point as it got a nice mixture of Jarret Doege and Garrett Greene in the early going.

The Mountaineer offense has had second-half issues all season, though, and those continued Saturday at Oklahoma. West Virginia had opportunities, but self-inflicted errors limited it to just three second-half points. That wasn’t enough to pull off the upset in Norman. Grade — C-

Defense — The WVU defense was awfully good against the explosive Sooners.

West Virginia did allow Oklahoma to march 67 yards for a touchdown on OU’s opening possession of the game, but after that, the Mountaineer D limited the home club to just 39 yards the remaineder of the first half.

That brought boos and chants of “Caleb” (referencing OU backup quarterback Caleb Williams), as the Sooner “faithful” boisterously expressed their displeasure with Oklahoma’s starting QB, Spencer Rattler, who threw a pick and also whose offense accounted for just 92 yards (73 passing and 18 rushing) in the first half.

Rattler got better in the second half, though, throwing for 256 yards for the game.

WVU’s defense did limit OU to just 57 rushing yards.

But with the game on the line, the Mountaineer defense couldn’t get the stop it needed, allowing the Sooner to drive 80 in the final 3:39 to get into position for the game-winning field goal at the gun. Grade — B

Special teams — West Virginia’s special teams were solid. They didn’t provide any big plays, but no bad ones either. Tyler Sumpter punted well, and WVU’s coverage was good overall against Oklahoma’s very dangerous returners. Grade — B

Coaching — The way Neal Brown and his staff mixed and matched quarterbacks Jarret Doege and Garrett Greene worked to perfection on the game’s first season and showed promise after that.

As WVU coach Neal Brown said, though, “Oklahoma executed better in the critical situations better than we did, and that was the difference.”

Small Mountaineer errors, especially when WVU’s offense got into scoring territory, cost West Virginia an opportunity for the upset.

Those types of mistakes also happened earlier this season, and they will keep WVU on the wrong side of the ledger in close games until they are fixed. Grade — C

MORGANTOWN -- In many ways, this was the game West Virginia was waiting on for far too many years, the game where people across the nation looked at the WVU football team and said, 'Hey, they really belong in there with the big boys.'

Just before the game that weighed heavilyi on his mind, putting it this way:

"We have to find out if we are at the point where we can challenge a champion."

He found out that they could challenge them but couldn't beat them, losing 16-13 on a 30-yard field goal by Gabe Brkic as the final second ticked off the click.

Oklahoma certainly is a champion as it has won or shared six straight Big 12 titles.

See, when you go back to the old days and you will see a Southern Conference team that could only find its way into The New York Times Sunday college roundups when it had Jerry West or Sam Huff performing. They were independent days, yes, but in those days they weren't even the elite independents as Notre Dame and Army and Navy ruled the roost.

WVU was good, owns the 15th most victories of all-time ... but even that always come with the explanatory phrase that it is the most wins by any team without a national championship.

WVU was good enough to get a couple of swings at that national title, but fate wasn't about to cooperate. Following an undefeated 1988 season, the magnificent Major Harris suffered an injury against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Then, in 2007, they were looking at a title game against Ohio State once they brushed a pitiful Pitt aside in the season finale.

Instead, they lost as 28.5-point favorites and lost not only face but their coach.

Oh, along the way there were stunning victories, toppling No. 8 Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl, beating No. 3 Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl after the Pitt debacle, laying 70 points on Clemson in the 2012 Orange Bowl, topping No. 3 Virginia Tech in 2003, beating No. 4 Miami in 993 and so many others.

But somehow the Mountaineers could not keep from being dominated by teams at or near the top. They would come heart-stoppingly close at times, but never could win enough to say they were in the same class as Miami, against whom they were 3-7; or Penn State, against whom they were 9-48-2; or against Oklahoma, against whom they were 2-0 entering Saturday night's game.

Since the polls were started in the '30s, WVU has gone just 8-62 against ranked teams on the road and have lost all 25 of their road games to Top 5 teams.

It wasn't so much that they lost, but how ... a leaping miracle catch on 4th and 7 in Miami by Kellen Winslow keeping a winning drive alive; an electrifying scramble by Michael Vick to set up a last second field goal.

It didn't seem to matter what WVU did. Losses came in games with some of their greatest moments, Quincy Wilson's catch and run over and through Miami defenders in the Winslow game; Tavon Austin setting the school record with 344 rushing yards in a 50-49 loss to Oklahoma; Justin Crawford gaining 33 yards on the ground in a 56-28 loss to the Sooners.

But the timing of this meeting with Oklahoma seemed right. They and Texas and just announced they were defecting from the Big 2 to the SEC, a move that shook the conference and college football at a seismic level, which left WVU out there on its own, hoping to find an offer from another power five conference.

But the Big Ten, the SEC and the ACC turned away, a sign that all the old perceptions of WVU were still intact despite the hiring of Neal Brown, millions spent of facility upgrades, taking on scheduling at the highest level.

If the table wasn't set for something special against Oklahoma again, then when would it be.

This was a money game against the only Big 12 team WVU had never defeated as a conference member.

The nation expected no upset but West Virginians across the nation felt this could be the time, this should be the time.

Then they kicked off.

WVU was ready, This wasn't the kid of offense that would win over a nation that seems to thrive on that, but WVU came out on a hostile field and physically took it to the Sooners, socking them in the mouth with an 9-minute, 17-play drive that ended with a touchdown and a new respect from the Oklahoma team.

As hammered away back and forth with yards being given up grudgingly by both sides, it was becoming more and more obvious that WVU belonged with the nation's No. 3 team.

This was hard-nosed football that had Oklahoma's fickle fans chanting to replace Spencer Rattler, a Heisman Trophy candidate with is back up, Caleb Williams.

Still, 30 minutes remained for WVU to make its point and this was going to be 30 minutes of hell for champions seldom fall easily.

So that is how it set up for the stretch run, a proud champion against a WVU team looking for a way to step up into the elite of college football by finally beating Oklahoma for the first time since joining the Big 12.

WVU did its thing ... but it came undone under the pressure in the final minutes as Zach Frazier had miscommunications with his two signal callers as WVU was moving toward what could have been a game-winning field goal, costing 26 yards and essentially the game.

NORMAN, Okla. — Gabe Brkic's 30-yard field goal as time expired gave No. 4 Oklahoma a 16-13 win over West Virginia on Saturday night.

Oklahoma started its final possession at its 8-yard line with 3:39 remaining. Quarterback Spencer Rattler, who was booed by the home fans on several occasions, completed all six of his passes for 54 yards on the final drive to get the Sooners into scoring range. The final drive was 14 plays and 80 yards.

Rattler passed for 256 yards and a touchdown. Mike Woods caught eight passes for 86 yards for the Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12), who won their third game by seven or fewer points this season.

West Virginia (2-2, 0-1), coming off a 27-21 win over then-No. 15 Virginia Tech, was held to 226 total yards.

West Virginia opened the game with a 17-play, 75-yard drive that took more than nine minutes and ended with a 2-yard Garrett Greene touchdown run.

Oklahoma evened the score on Rattler's 5-yard touchdown pass to Austin Stogner.

After Rattler threw an interception to West Virginia cornerback Jackie Matthews late in the first half, a loud chant of “We want Caleb!” -- referring to backup quarterback Caleb Williams -- rang out.

Casey Legg's 25-yard field goal as time expired in the first half gave the Mountaineers a 10-7 lead at the break. Oklahoma had just 91 yards of total offense in the first half.

The Sooners moved down the field to open the second half, and a 28-yard field goal by Brkic tied the score. Legg responded with a 21-yarder to put West Virginia back ahead by three.

Brkic's 35-yard field goal with 8:59 remaining tied the score at 13.

West Virginia, aided by a roughing the passer penalty against Oklahoma, moved into scoring range on its next drive. But the Mountaineers lost 21 yards on a bad snap and eventually were forced to punt, setting up Oklahoma's final drive.

THE TAKEAWAY

West Virginia: The Mountaineers nearly pulled off another win over a ranked team, but they were held to 62 yards in the second half.

Oklahoma: The Sooners waited until their final possession to get into an offensive groove, but they did enough to get the win, which in this season of upsets, counts for something.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Oklahoma probably won't drop because Iowa and Penn State, who are just below the Sooners, weren't dominant in their wins. West Virginia missed out on a chance to jump into the Top 25.

UP NEXT

West Virginia: Host Texas Tech next Saturday.

Oklahoma: Visits Kansas State next Saturday. The Wildcats beat the Sooners last season in Norman and defeated Oklahoma in Manhattan, Kansas two years ago.