Oklahoma football: West Virginia opponents have benefited in awards during losing streak
During the Mountaineers' four-game skid, each opponent has had a player selected as the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week
NORMAN — Eleven Mondays have come and gone since the college football season began, and still no Oklahoma players have been selected for Big 12 Football Player of the Week honors, given for offense, defense and special teams.
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Breaking down the winners
West Virginia has surrendered an average of 49.5 points per game during its stunning four-game losing streak.
Two days after each of those four losses, an opposing player has earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.
The award's only recipient over the past five weeks who didn't earn it against West Virginia was Collin Klein on Oct. 29; the Mountaineers had the preceding weekend off.
October 15: Seth Doege, Texas Tech senior quarterback; completed 32 of 42 passes for 499 passing yards and 6 TDs in the Red Raiders' 49-14 rout of the Mountaineers.
October 22: Collin Klein, Kansas State senior quarterback; completed 19 of 21 passes for 323 passing yards, and also ran the ball 12 times for 41 yards. Finished with 7 total TDs in the Wildcats' 55-14 win.
November 5: Josh Boyce, TCU junior receiver; caught 6 passes for 180 yards and 2 TDs, including a 94-yarder, as the Horned Frogs beat West Virginia 39-38 in two overtimes.
November 12: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State sophomore receiver; caught 13 passes for 172 yards and 2 TDs in the Cowboys' 55-34 win in Stillwater.
If an Oklahoma player becomes the fifth consecutive Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week allowed by West Virginia's defense, it's likely to be quarterback Landry Jones or one of his top-four wide receivers.
The Mountaineers have been OK against the run, but rank dead last in pass defense among the 120 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision programs.
Here is a look at the five players most likely to be named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week next Monday:
* Landry Jones: The OU senior quarterback hasn't won the conference's player of the week award this year, but has won it six times during his OU career. He's completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 2,691 yards and 18 touchdowns so far this season.
* Jalen Saunders: The junior Fresno State transfer wasn't ruled eligible until mid-October, but has quickly emerged as one of OU's biggest offensive threats. He caught a school-record 8 passes in one quarter against Notre Dame, but has yet to score a touchdown in his five games. Matched up against a weak West Virginia pass defense, Saunders could finally get in the end zone and have a breakout performance.
* Justin Brown: A senior, Brown has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last two weeks, when he's also had his biggest games in terms of receiving yards. The outside receiver has sure hands, is fast and fully capable of shining in his first game near the East coast since transferring from Penn State in August.
* Sterling Shepard: The true freshman has done well in the slot, which is the position from which Josh Stewart gashed West Virginia last weekend. Shepard's biggest performance — by far — came in Week 3 against Kansas State, when he had 108 yards and a touchdown.
* Kenny Stills: The junior has been Jones' favorite target for much of the season, leading the team with 682 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.
The odds are good that will change next week — two days after No. 12 Oklahoma plays at West Virginia.
Maybe it'll be quarterback Landry Jones, who has earned the conference's weekly honor six times since his freshman year, or any one of the talented receivers at his disposal.
But if the current trend continues, it's going to be a Sooner's turn to be selected as the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
Just ask Seth Doege, Collin Klein, Josh Boyce or Josh Stewart — the weekly honor is there for the taking when you play West Virginia: Each of the four teams that have toppled the Mountaineers over their current four-game losing streak had one of its player honored as Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week the following Monday.
The Mountaineers' defense has turned into a punch line; the one-time national-title contender's last four opponents — Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma State — have scored 49, 55, 39 and 55 points, respectively.
While West Virginia ranks fifth nationally in passing offense and 18th in total offense, the Mountaineers' defense has been abysmal.
West Virginia is dead last among FBS teams in passing defense, giving up an average of 345.2 yards per game, and ranks 117th in scoring defense.
“They're a team that's given up a lot of points, but their offense has kept them in a lot of games with scoring a lot of points,” said OU senior fullback Trey Millard.
On Oct. 13, West Virginia was 5-0 and ranked fifth in the nation when its stunning collapse began in Lubbock, where Doege, Texas Tech's quarterback, tossed six touchdowns and racked up 499 passing yards in the Red Raiders' 49-14 rout.
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