An improved defense is part of the reason the Oklahoma Sooners have earned a No. 12 ranking, but the West Virginia Mountaineers will still try to beat them with their high-power attack as they hope to snap a four-game losing streak.
Earlier in the season, when West Virginia was winning weekly shootouts, there wasn't a team in the country whose defense could strike fear into the Mountaineers. Now, riding a four-game losing streak with No. 12 Oklahoma on the schedule, Dana Holgorsen's squad is probably worried about what the Sooners will bring to the table when West Virginia has the ball.
The Sooners' strength is an offense led by Landry Jones that's only been held under 30 points three times this year. But they have only allowed 19.6 points per game this season, an improvement on a team that gave up 40 points on three separate occasions last year -- something they haven't done yet through nine games. Matt Casazza of the Daily Mail examined the Sooners' defense:
The Sooners are now No. 20 in total defense and No. 24 in scoring defense. Their two losses came when allowing 24 and 30 points and they'll pose a challenge to WVU's passing offense. Oklahoma is No. 2 in pass efficiency defense and No. 8 in passing yards allowed per game.
"The one thing that never changes is the effort they play with and the nastiness they play with," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They play with a tremendous amount of energy."
Only two teams have held West Virginia under 30 points, and the Mountaineers lost both games. However, the issue has shown itself to be bigger than scoring, as Geno Smith and the high-powered West Virginia offense have put up 38 and 34 in back-to-back games against TCU and Oklahoma State, and yet came away with a pair of losses.