Riding a Huge Win, WVU Must Refocus to Open Big 12 Play in Norman

The Mountaineers survived a rivalry matchup with Virginia Tech, but must hit the road and take on the Oklahoma Sooners this weekend.
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The West Virginia Mountaineers picked up their second ranked win under head coach Neal Brown last weekend.

Facing their old rivals Virginia Tech, the Mountaineers held on due to a strong first half performance to beat the No. 15-ranked Hokies 27-21.

The victory gave the Mountaineers a winning record for the first time this season after dropping their season opener to Maryland, and it meant a lot to the program to regain the Black Diamond Trophy.

“We’ve been talking about this as a team,” Brown said after the game. “For 6,195 days that trophy had been in Blacksburg, Virginia. And so tonight, we were able to bring it home and I know there’s a whole bunch of people who were wearing gold today that were happy about that.”

In an emotionally charged win for West Virginia, the key to turning around their fortunes from their loss to the Terrapins in Week 1 was their ability to move the ball on the ground.

Running back Leddie Brown gashed the Hokies, rushing for 161 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, a major improvement from his 17 rushes for 73 yards against Maryland.

The potent rushing attack kept the pressure off of quarterback Jarret Doege, who completed 15-of-26 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

Dante Stills, West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia defensive star Dante Stills lifts the Black Diamond Trophy after the Mountaineers topped No. 15-ranked Virginia Tech last weekend

But Doege also threw an interception, which is his third of the year.

If the Oklahoma defense can limit Leddie Brown and put the game on the shoulders of Doege, West Virginia may struggle to move the ball.

It remains to be seen, however, how many points the Mountaineer offense will actually have to score to win the game.

Against Virginia Tech, Neal Brown said he told his offensive coaching staff that he believed 30 points would win it, as he had faith in his defense.

Coming off an uninspiring performance against where the OU offense only put up 23 points on Nebraska, the Mountaineer defense could be licking their chops.

Linebacker Jared Bartlett was disruptive against the Hokies, posting three quarterback sacks while Preseason All-Big 12 First-Team defensive lineman Dante Stills draws plenty of the attention at the heart of the West Virginia defense.

The Oklahoma offensive line will have to improve off of their performance agains the Cornhuskers if they hope to control the line of scrimmage this weekend, as the WVU defensive front held Virginia Tech to 2.5 yards per rush and only allowed Maryland to post 3.7 yards per rush.

Heading to Norman to kick off Big 12 play, the Mountaineers will still have to buck a trend which has plagued them since they entered the conference. The Mountaineer offense has struggled on the road, especially against Oklahoma, throughout their stay in the Big 12, and West Virginia will have to steady their emotions and get ready to battle the Sooners after a rivalry win that Neal Brown prioritized so heavily.

“Winning’s hard,” Neal Brown said. “We talked about this before the game, but I thought this was going to be a defining moment for us… Just a big win.

“It was a little ugly there at the end. But at the end of the day, they’re gonna count this as a win.”

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