West Virginia Welcomes the Cowboys on Senior Day

Christopher Hall

Morgantown, WV – The West Virginia Mountaineers (4-6, 2-5) kept their post-season hopes alive following a 24-20 upset win over No. 24 Kansas State last week in Manhattan.

This week, West Virginia hosts Heisman-hopeful Chubba Hubbard and the 21st-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-3, 4-3).

Despite Hubbard averaging 172.6 yards a game, he's still a long ways off from topping Oklahoma State's record list. Arguably the greatest to ever carry the rock, Barry Sanders, averaged 237.5 yards per game and finished his 1988 Heisman run with 2,850 yards and 42 touchdowns in 12 games.

Hubbard may not catch Sanders in total yards, but he's only eight scores away (28) from claiming the No. 2 mark in rushing touchdowns in program history.

Chuba leads the NCAA in rushing yards (1,726) and is second in touchdowns (20). He’s been the Cowboy's workhorse, leading the country in rush attempts with 259.

This past week, redshirt freshman starting quarterback Spencer Sanders had surgery on his thumb, keeping him out the remainder of the regular season.

This opens the door for Hawaii transfer Dru Brown. Some in Stillwater suspected he would be the starter for the Cowboys coming into the season after two seasons as the starter at Hawaii, where he threw for 5,273 yards and 37 touchdowns in two seasons.

In primarily mop-up duty this year, Brown has gone 13-18 for 223 yards and three touchdowns. However, one of the things that made the run game tick was Sanders' ability to pull the ball in the read-option. With only 40 pass attempts the last two games, Oklahoma State’s offense may look a little different and may go more to the air, but that won't mean Hubbard won't see plenty of touches. This could be a game where they get tight end Jelani Woods more involved in the game plan.

After a surprising loss at Texas Tech and a beat down at home from Baylor, head coach Mike Gundy righted the ship and is currently enjoying a three-game winning streak that started with a win at Iowa State.

Wins over TCU and most recently Kansas came without star receiver Tylan Wallace. Dillon Stoner has stepped up in his absence with eight receptions for 243 yards and four touchdowns.

After giving up 45 points both to Texas Tech and Baylor, the defense has held its opponents to 22.3 in the last three games.

West Virginia is still looking for production in its running game, even though the Mountaineers rushed for 77 yards in the first half against the Wildcats last week. Nevertheless, they were held to just eight yards in the second half. Improvement was there but certainly nowhere close to where it needs to be.

The biggest key to the Mountaineers pulling off the upset on the road was the defense shutting out K-State in the final 22 minutes of the game. A lot of credit also goes to Jarret Doege, who came up clutch three times on third down with touchdown passes, two coming inside the red zone. 

West Virginia has pulled out different looks two out of the last three games and even going with four down linemen against K-State. Some of that had to do with injuries on the defensive side of the ball - a list the now includes senior safety Josh Norwood.

In order for the Mountaineers to win its second-consecutive contest against a ranked opponent, West Virginia will need to limit Hubbard's production and force Dru Brown to win the game with his arm.

Saturday's contest will recognize 22 seniors playing in their final game at Mountaineer Field. Kickoff is set for 12:00 pm Eastern and will be televised on ESPN2.