As we continue our way-too-early look at OSU’s fall slate, let’s look at the Cowboys’ second Big 12 road trip in a stadium in which they’ve historically performed well.
Week 8: West Virginia
The Mountaineers are coming off their fourth consecutive season hovering at .500 and are replacing even more starters than most teams in the Big 12. Let’s dig into the matchup.
When: Oct. 21
Where: Morgantown, West Virgina
Series history: 9-5
OSU is 4-2 in Morgantown and has won four straight starting in 2015. One of those two losses came all the way back in 1928.
Last meeting: The Mountaineers ended the Cowboys’ regular season with a 24-19 Senior Day defeat on a rainy day in Stillwater. WVU was able to outscore the Cowboys despite mustering only 77 passing yards and 327 total yards from scrimmage.
West Virginia in 2022: That road win against OSU was the Mounatineers’ bowl game. WVU ended the season 5-7, missing postseason play for the second time in four seasons under Neal Brown.
Despite never exceeding six wins during his four years at the helm, West Virginia announced it would keep Brown for the upcoming fall. That decision came off the Mountaineers winning two of their final three, but was likely even more influenced by the $13 million buyout on his contract that runs through 2026. But now with a new AD in place, Brown’s seat is probably getting pretty toasty unless he turns things around in 2023. And that won’t be easy.
West Virginia in 2023: The Mountaineers return just 10 starters from last season on either side of the ball, and will be reloading at wide receiver and have a big question mark behind center. Former Georgia transfer JT Daniels couldn’t hold onto the starting job last season before Garrett Greene took over for the final two games. Also in the mix will be redshirt frosh Nicco Marchiol who was the No. 19 passer in the 2022 class.
WVU’s defense ranked ninth in scoring allowed last season but was decent against the run. Unfortuntately for the John Denver fans, the Mountaineers lost their top D-linemen Jordan Jefferson, Dante Still and Taijh Alston.
Key matchup: The QB Battle
We know football teams go as far as their quarterbacks take them, but both of these teams enter the fall without a named starter and both need quality play behind center for different reasons. WVU is looking at a potential make-or-break season in Year 5 and — while Gundy isn’t in that type of hot water — how well the offense bounces back will go a long way in determining if 2022 was a down year or, potentially, the start of several. Assuming Alan Bowman is the guy, the Cowboys will have to start the QB competition all over next year.
By this time in the season, both programs will (hopefully) have settled on a QB1. This far out and as much improvement as both needed, I’ll make this simple and say the best QB outing wins.