MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 13, 2012

Sooners eagerly anticipate trip to West Virginia

By John Shinn
CNHI



NORMAN — Just about every player and coach on Oklahoma’s roster will share one thing in common when the bus pulls up at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. All will be making their first visit to the home of the West Virginia Mountaineers.

“It’s definitely exciting,” cornerback Aaron Colvin said on Monday. “It builds more of adrenaline sometimes because you’ve never played them, and you want to see what a brand new environment is like and a new team that we’ve never played before. I’m excited to go there and play these great players.”

There is an explorer element to the 13th-ranked Sooners (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) that previous Sooner squads lacked. This team seems to like playing on the road more than others. It shows in their record (4-0 away from Owen Field with a margin of victory in each by at least two touchdowns). Two of those wins were against teams — Texas Tech and Texas — that are currently ranked.

A few weeks ago, Saturday’s meeting with the Mountaineers looked like a third chance to beat a ranked team away from home. Many were pegging this as a potential Big 12 game of the year.

However, West Virginia’s season has gone into a tailspin thanks to its current four-game losing streak.

Nevertheless, this is a trip OU’s excited to make.

“Our guys have heard all the hype at the beginning of the year and through the year and rightfully so on their high-powered offense, their strength as a team overall and their play,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Our guys are aware of all those kinds of things. I sensed in the locker room after the game that they understood it and were looking forward to the challenge of it.”

The Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4) joined TCU as the Big 12’s newcomers this season. However, anyone who grew up playing high school in Oklahoma or Texas is at least familiar with the Horned Frogs. The trip to Fort Worth OU will make Dec. 1 will feel more like a homecoming for many players.

This weekend’s jaunt to West Virginia is different.

“I think we’ve always kind of looked forward to this game because they’re new in our conference and I’ve never really played these guys, “ quarterback Landry Jones said. “I’ve never been to Morgantown or anything like that. Everybody’s really excited to go up there and play them.”

However, excitement alone doesn’t translate into great football. What OU has figured out this season is that it is tougher to win on the road. It has finally embraced that challenge. They have to be focused during the week and they have to be in the game when 60,000 fans are cheering their every flaw.

“It just brings your team closer, because that’s all you have on the road really, “ defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said. “There are a few fans who travel with you, but it’s all about what’s in your locker room.”

There will be some OU fans there. OU coach Bob Stoops said there will be a couple of busloads from his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, that make the trip two and a half hours south, southeast for the game.

No matter how many members of the Stoops family or longtime friends make the trip, OU fans will be a minority on Saturday. This season at least, OU has been its best under those circumstances.