STRONG IN THE SECOND
While Oklahoma State's total defensive ranking is just middling in terms of yardage, it has made plays when it counts, and seems to get stronger down the stretch. Over the last three games, the Cowboys own a 54-13 scoring advantage in the second half. They have also given up just 24.6 points per game to Big 12 foes this year, and have allowed scores on just 11 of the last 55 opponent possessions.
Geno Smith could break several more single-season and career records this week. He's just two touchdown passes away from tying the single-season record of 31, which he co-owns with Marc Bulger, and is three shy of tying his own 2011 mark of 33 touchdowns responsible for.
Smith also figures to pass Pat White for first place on the career total offense list. White totaled 10,529 yards in his wareer, shile Smith has 10,409.
Oklahoma State's overall athletic resume is excellent. The Cowboys can boast of 50 NCAA team championships, including a recent back-to-back double in men's cross-country in 2009-10. OSU has also won 18 Big 12 titles over the last four years, including five last season in football, soccer, wrestling, equestrian and men's cross-country.
NOT JUST QBs
OSU has seen a revolving door at quarterback this year, due to injuries to Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh. However, that's not the only place the the Cowboy passing game has suffered setbacks.
Oklahoma State entered the season with two proven
starters at receiver in Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson. Injuries have limited the playing time of both
seniors, as well as that of tight end Justin Horton, who has
been lost to a season-ending injury. As a result, OSU’s
2012 receiving corps has been nearly a total rebuild from
2011. Moore has played in just four games and has 259
of OSU’s 2,847 receiving yards. Anderson has just 10
catches covering 123 yards.
Despite those crippling blows, OSU is still thrid in the nation in passing offense, averaging 356 yards per game. Does the credit go to coaching or the talent level of the backups? Either way, Oklahoma State's production in the face of devastating injuries has been almost unbelievable.
MORE THAN JUST COACHES
In addition to Dana Holgorsen, Joe DeForest, Robert Gillespie and Jake Spavital, all of whom had coaching or GA stints at Oklahoma State, the current Mountaineer staff features two other members with ties to Stillwater.
Former Cowboy All-Big 12 cornerback Andrew McGee (2010) is a defensive graduate assistant at WVU. The second defensive GA for the Mountaineers is Jeff Horocks, who was a quality control staffer at OSU. McGee is an active participant in WVU's gameday on-field coaching, as he helps signal calls and works with the cornerbacks between series.
SPECIAL TEAMS WEAPONS
West Virginia has Tavon Austin, who has the chance to change games with hs electric kick returns. But will he get the chance to show his stuff against OSU? Cowboy specialist Quinn Sharp averages 46 yards per punt, and OSU holds a net punting average of 41.6 yards due to his high, well-placed kicks. The Pokes have yielded just 71 punt return yards all year.
The news might be a bit better on kickoffs. While Sharp has 51 touchbacks on 65 boots this year, foes are averaging 33.5 yards per return when they do get a runback chance. Those might be few and far between, however, so Austin has to make his opportunities pay off.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
We've seen and listed a number of alarming statistics concerning the West Virginia defense, but this one might be the most illustrative of the team's pass coverage woes. The Mountaineers are yielding an ugly 10 yards per opponent pass attempt this year. That mean's on average, that simply dropping back to throw yields a first down.
Compare that to WVU's passing game, which despite recent woes, has still accounted for 340 yards per game. Even with those numbers, WVU averages just 7.5 yards per attempt.
The gulf gets even worse when looking at only pass completions. WVU averages a very good 10.6 yards per reception. Opponents, however, are tallying 15.2 yards every time they make a grab.