By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Oklahoma State (3-0), ranked No. 11 in both major national polls, has been listed by odds takers as a 21-point favorite against struggling West Virginia (2-2) on Saturday.
The Big 12 Conference contest gets under way at noon in Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
It will be televised by ESPN.
The visiting Cowboys, who are coming off an open week, were voted the pre-season pick by the Big 12 coaches to win the conference championship.
Oklahoma State prevailed by 55-34 in last year’s shootout in Stillwater, Okla. OSU head coach Mike Gundy is 1-0 versus WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen.
The Cowboys finished 8-5 in 2012. The Mountaineers wound up 7-6 after that 5-0 start and No. 5 national rating.
Holgorsen, who recalled at his weekly press conference on Tuesday that “the sun came up on Sunday,” said his team had a lot of things to work on in preparation for its toughest test yet.
“These kids are resilient,” he noted. “They are a lot more resilient than the coaching staff. There are plenty of things we can do better.
“We know a lot about Oklahoma State. Our guys are very familiar with them. It’s one of the teams that they understand more than the other teams.”
Holgorsen praised the Cowboys’ quarterback, J.W. Walsh, as being very athletic and he has won a lot of football games. “He’s a coach’s kid, he’s savvy, he throws the ball well, he makes it work,” Holgorsen stated.
According to the third-year Mountaineer mentor, the Cowboys always have been strong up front. He also stressed that the Mountaineers must be aware that OSU’s two kick returners are noted for being great scorers.
West Virginia has decided to stick with Ford Childress, a redshirt freshman quarterback from Houston, Tex. In two complete games, the youngster managed a total of 36 completions in 56 pass attempts for 421 yards and three touchdowns. He had three interceptions and his longest pass was 45 yards.
Another import from Houston, senior Charles Sims, remains the leading rusher. For four games, he has gained 328 yards on 60 carries and scored three TDs. He also has caught 12 passes for 81 yards.
Ten different WVU offensive players have seen action at receiver, including running backs. However, just one pass was caught by a true wide receiver in last week’s 37-0 shutout by unbeaten Maryland (4-0) in Baltimore, Md.
Daikiel Shorts, a 6-foot-1, 201-pound freshman inside receiver, is the leading pass catcher so far. He shows 12 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Here are some statistical comparisons between the two teams:
Scoring offense—WVU 18.0 ppg, OSU 45.3.
First downs—WVU 79, OSU 78.
Rushing offense—WVU 174.8 ypg, OSU 176.0 ypg.
Passing offense—WVU 219.0, OSU 311.7 ypg.
Total offense—WVU 393.8, OSU 487.7.