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