Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 20, 2018 at 10:22 pm.

Mountaineers need win to reach Big 12 title game

One game for all the marbles — or at least a chance to play for a league championship. That’s what’s a stake for No. 13 West Virginia when it hosts sixth-ranked Oklahoma on Friday night at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia.

The winner between the Mountaineers and the Sooners will fill half the dance card for the Dec. 1 Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas. The loser — especially if it’s West Virginia — will be on the outside looking in after a terrific regular season.

“We do our best as coaches not to look ahead,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Obviously when this schedule came out over a year ago, our hopes were for this game to mean something.

“This is the first time in our Big 12 tenure that this game means something. I know we’ve only had the championship game for two years, but we knew we were going to have to go through OU to be able to get there. So, here it is; we have to go through OU to be able to get to the championship game, and that’s right where we wanted to be.”

The Mountaineers (8-2, 6-2 in Big 12 play) head home after a 45-41 loss at Oklahoma State last Saturday that saw West Virginia blow its first halftime lead in 21 straight games under Holgorsen.

The outcome may have been decided on the final play when a Will Grier pass from the Oklahoma State 14-yard line was knocked down, but it was really decided on two critical short yardage plays West Virginia failed to convert deep in Oklahoma State territory.

“We left probably 14 points out there,” Holgorsen said after the loss.”When you are in the red zone and can’t punch it in, if you are a great offense, you do that. I guess we are not a great offense because we couldn’t do that.”

West Virginia ranks fourth nationally in passing efficiency, No. 5 in passing offense, No. 9 in scoring offense, No. 10 in total offense and No. 14 in completion percentage.

“We’ll be fine — I don’t want to talk about last week or disappointment or any of that crap,” Holgorsen said. “We’re 8-2, and we’re a good football team. That was Big 12 football last week. We have to learn from it.”