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NCAA Football Big 12 Showdown: Oklahoma at West Virginia

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West Virginia’s offense has looked significantly better this season now that starting quarterback Clint Trickett has one year of experience under head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense.  Indeed, the Mountaineers are averaging 39.0 points per game on 8.9 yards per pass play and 6.2 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow just 7.2 yards per pass attempt and 5.4 yards per play to a mediocre offensive squad.  Trickett’s familiarity with Holgorsen’s schemes was on full display last week where he completed 37-of-49 passes for 511 yards and four touchdowns in a thrilling 40-37 road win over a very good Maryland team.  Overall, West Virginia has been 1.7 yards per pass play and 0.8 yards per play better than average offensively in 2014.

The challenge for Trickett & Co. is going to be moving the ball against a stout Oklahoma defense that is allowing just 2.7 yards per rush attempt, 4.8 yards per pass attempt and 3.9 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 3.6 yards per rush play, 6.3 yards per pass play and 5.1 yards per play against a mediocre defensive unit.  Based on those statistics, the Sooners’ stop unit has been 0.9 yards per rush attempt, 1.5 yards per pass attempt and 1.2 yards per play better than average this season.  When West Virginia has the ball, the Mountaineers possess a nominal 0.2 yards per pass play advantage over Oklahoma’s secondary, but the Sooners maintain a 0.4 yards per play advantage overall from the line of scrimmage.

West Virginia welcomes back seven returning defensive players, including an extremely experienced linebacking unit that could be one of the best in the nation. Through two games this season, West Virginia’s stop unit has been mediocre at best as the Mountaineers are allowing 4.7 yards per rush play, 6.5 yards per pass play and 5.5 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 4.5 yards per rush attempt, 6.7 yards per pass attempt and 5.5 yards per play.  The Mountaineers’ defense suffered a big loss with the recent suspension of cornerback Daryl Worley, who was widely regarded as the team’s most athletic defensive back.  The sophomore, who has 17 tackles and two interceptions, has been arrested and accused of grabbing a woman around the neck and shoving her to the ground at a nightclub.

It goes without saying that Oklahoma arrives in Morgantown with an explosive offense that is averaging 44.7 points per game on 5.6 yards per rush play, 8.4 yards per pass play and 7.0 yards per play.  Overall, the Sooners are 1.0 yards per play better than average offensively, but Bob Stoops’ squad will be without running back Keith Ford.  Ford, part of Oklahoma’s three running back rotation, will miss at least a week with a small fracture in his right leg, which was suffered in last Saturday’s 34-10 home win over Tennessee.  “That’ll be a week-to-week,” said Stoops, who was already without highly touted incoming freshman running back Joe Mixon for the season after he was charged with misdemeanor assault and suspended.  “For sure, he won’t be able to play this week.”

While Oklahoma employs a three running back rotation, the loss of Ford is significant in that he leads the team in rushing with 195 yards and is third with 100 receiving yards.  I also like the attitude being displayed by Trickett and his teammates: “There is no such thing as an unbeatable team.”  Traveling to Morgantown for a Saturday night affair before a packed house of over 60,000 fans in Mountaineer Field is not exactly a field trip for the Sooners.  From a technical standpoint, West Virginia is 6-1 ATS as home underdogs of more than six points, 5-1 ATS when playing with conference revenge and a perfect 3-0 ATS in this series.  Let’s also note that the Mountaineers are 58-14 SU at home, with only four losses coming by double-digits.

Let’s not forget that the Mountaineers limited Oklahoma to just sixteen points on 119 passing yards (two interceptions), which was the Sooners’ lowest point total in a home win since 1967!  I have confirmed true sharp money favoring the home underdog, and I completely agree with the move.  Grab the points and invest with confidence.  Be sure to come back for more NCAA football previews and betting advice.

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