Sep 21, 2014 2:24 PM
No. 4 Oklahoma thrives in test at West Virginia
The Associated Press
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Playing a long stretch of games away from home doesn't stir great concern for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and his players.
The Sooners overcame their first deficit of the season to quiet a sellout crowd at West Virginia, and now fourth-ranked Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) will use a bye week to try to build on a solid start to the season.
Oklahoma pulled away in the second half of a 45-33 win over the Mountaineers on Saturday night by slowing down West Virginia's up-tempo offense in the second half and letting the Sooners' 243-pound freshman running back Samaje Perine do most of the work.
Oklahoma will have another road test on Oct. 4 at TCU. The Sooners have beaten the Horned Frogs by a combined 10 points the past two seasons. Then there's the annual neutral-site battle with Texas on Oct. 11 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Oklahoma has won there nine times since 2000 and will try to avenge a loss to the Longhorns last year.
"We don't look at the Cotton Bowl as away from home," Stoops said.
By the time Oklahoma plays again in Norman, on Oct. 18 against Kansas State, the Sooners will have gone five weeks between home games. That ties the 1999 season Stoops' first as Oklahoma's coach as the longest such stretch under him.
"Sometimes you have to play on the road and it's not a big deal to us," Stoops said. "It's do your work and all that matters is how you play between the lines and get yourself ready to play. So we don't make a big issue out of it."
The Sooners had built double-digit leads in their first three games before fans had settled into their seats.
Against the Mountaineers (2-2, 0-1) in their Big 12 opener, Oklahoma trailed 24-17 just before halftime, then seized the momentum on Alex Ross' 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Oklahoma got the ball back to start the second half, scored on one of Perine's four touchdown runs and never trailed again. Perine finished with 242 yards on 34 carries.
"In past weeks, we've kind of started fast and slowed up a bit at the end," said Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight said. "Tonight we were able to turn it on in the second half.
"We knew coming in it would be tough. West Virginia had been playing great and putting up huge numbers with their passing game," he said. "So to come into their house and win is huge for our program."
West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett threw for 376 yards his fifth straight game over 300 and the Mountaineers outgained Oklahoma 513-500. But the Sooners sacked Trickett three times, made two interceptions and recovered one of his fumbles.
Knight overcame a shaky start and finished 16-of-29 for 205 yards. Sterling Shepard caught six passes for 101 yards.
"I thought the passing game could have been better in areas but we made some big plays on third-down conversions," Knight said. "Nothing was perfect and we have a lot of areas to improve on."