By Michael Kinney
After beating Texas in its biggest challenge of the year, some look at their game with West Virginia as a trap game. One of those contests where the team that is an overwhelming favorite is either looking ahead or still looking behind them.
In the past, this is something the Sooners had been guilty of when they drop games they shouldn’t have. But this OU squad is seemingly not going to fall for those old tricks anymore.
No. 5 Oklahoma rolled to a 52-14 victory over West Virginia Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Coach Riley always tells us to never take winning for granted,” sophomore fullback Jeremiah Hall said. “There are a lot of programs right now that are struggling or fighting to be where we are, so we understand and know that we have to get better. At the same time, we can only enjoy one game at a time and today we are going to celebrate with smiles on our faces.”
Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0) jumped on the scoreboard first on their second possession of the game. After Kennedy Brooks ran the OU offense down into the WVU territory, quarterback Jalen Hurts hit Hall for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The Sooners liked it so much, on the next possession they drove 74 yards in just four plays. This time Hurts connected with Charleston Rambo for a 6-yard touchdown and a 14-0 advantage.
“We got ballers,” Rambo said. “Whoever is gonna touch the ball, they’re going to make a play. We just wait our turn.”
The Mountaineers used their special teams to answer back. Back up deep in their own territory, WVU turned a fake punt into a first down. That led to former Sooner and current WVU quarterback Austin Kendall throwing a touchdown and cutting the deficit to seven points.
However, touchdowns from Brooks and Hurts seemed to stop the WVU momentum and the Sooners looked like they were on the verge of running away with the game.
But with 20 seconds left in the first half, Kendall threw his second TD pass and OU led 28-14 at halftime.
The Sooners started the second half with another long scoring drive. It ended with Hurts strolling into the endzone after a 22 yard run.
But it was on the Sooner’s next possession that Hurts put the game away. He connected with Lee Morris for a 46-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline. Hurts hit Morris in stride in the endzone.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Morris said. “Really, I didn’t know how close [the defender] was until the ball was in the air like I could just feel him getting closer and closer. Other than that, it was a dime by Jalen. I just had to fetch it.”
Kendall had opportunities throughout the day to do the same thing as the WVU receivers got behind the Oklahoma secondary. However, he often overthrew them and came away empty-handed.
The Sooner’s defense stuffed WVU on their first possession of the second half deep in the Mountaineers territory and was forced to punt. Punter Josh Growden was lined up in the endzone when Brayden Willis steamrolled through the middle of the line and blocked the punt.
The loose ball was recovered by Austin Stogner in the endzone for a TD and Oklahoma led 49-14.
“Honestly, every time we get a special teams play, we’re just pumped,” Willis said. “We try so hard on special teams that we want to just be part of the game. So every time we get a touchdown on special teams, it’s a big celebration.”
Except for the two first-half touchdown drives, the Oklahoma defense had a solid outing. They held WVU to 242 total yards. That includes just 51 yards on the ground.
“We just wanted to make sure that momentum that they thought they had right before halftime, we got that back,” Brendan Radley-Hiles said. “They scored right before halftime so you make a play right before halftime, you go in [to the second half] with a little momentum, so we wanted to take everything out of their game plan as soon as possible.”
Oklahoma racked up 560 total yards. They averaged 9.6 yards per play.
Hurts finished the day 316 yards and three touchdowns on 16 of 17 passing. He became the third OU to complete at least 90% of his passes, throw for over 300 yards and throw for at least three TDs in a game.
Hurts also led the Sooners with 92 yards on the ground and another pair of scores.
Yet, Hurts said the Sooners are far from just how good they can be as a team.
” We don’t know what the ceiling is, no one knows. How we get to it, our peak, is going out there every day and practicing hard,” Hurts said. “I’ll say it again, having the right intent and approach to what we do, being eager, essentially starving for an opportunity to play. We just got to have that factor about us, we have to be hungry for every opportunity that we have and go out there and take advantage of our opportunities.”
The Sooners travel to Kansas State Saturday. Kick-off is set for 11 a.m., which will be their fifth straight early morning start.
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