NORMAN, Okla. — It was a November night. The temperature in Morgantown was a crisp 46 degrees and there was a slight wind.
The Oklahoma Sooners and their quarterback Landry Jones and receiver Kenny Stills were out on the artificial turf at Puskar Stadium dueling with West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
The game would last an even four hours. The clock was stopped so often for West Virginia’s 32 first downs and the 30 Oklahoma had that the time just slipped away.
With Austin setting a WVU single-game rushing record with 344 yards, the Mountaineers strafed Oklahoma for 778 yards of total offense.
No Oklahoma team in history had ever given up that much total offense to an opponent.
The Sooners amassed 662 yards of total offense with Jones completing 38-of-51 passes for 554 yards and six touchdowns.
Nothing seemed to stop for a breath in the fourth quarter. A total of 31 points were toasted, including four touchdowns in the last seven minutes.
Twice in the frantic final minutes, WVU went ahead, the last points coming after a three-play drive that covered 92 yards in 1:11 of clock time.
But trailing by five points, the Sooners got a last critical possession with 2:53 to play.
Jones had already connected with Kenny Stills for scores on plays that covered four yards, 11 yards and seven yards.
With only 24 seconds remaining, Jones and his Sooners were at the Mountaineer five. Stills, a 6-foot-4 senior, seemed the logical target. Again.
Stills ran a slant pattern toward the middle of the field. Jones looked right at him and aimed his pass in Stills direction.
Touchdown catch No. 4 for Stills.
The quick-blinking scoreboard read: Oklahoma 50, West Virginia 49.
West Virginia’s enormous offensive output had been wasted. The 458 rushing yards were for naught. Smith’s 20-of-35 passing night that accomplished 320 yards and four touchdowns (three scoring catches by Bailey) meant only fleeting satisfaction in a 50-49 loss that was WVU’s fifth straight defeat.
Oklahoma’s Jones and Stills were seniors. So were WVU’s quarterback Smith, receiver Bailey and the all-purpose Austin.
None of them will be in Norman on Saturday when it’s West Virginia’s turn to be on the road. It’s another 7 p.m. (EDT) start. Neither team gave away any secrets last week when the Sooners beat Louisiana-Monroe and the Mountaineers won against William & Mary.
This is a Big 12 game.
Both teams have several more non-conference games. Those games won’t mean much when compared with whether your conference record is 1-0 or 0-1.
Since last year’s wildly entertaining show, there have been many defensive changes in both camps. New defensive coordinators. Tons of different starters.
Each side has a different quarterback. The Sooners still have Damien Williams who ran for 92 yards and caught six passes for 71 yards in Morgantown last November. Jalen Saunders had seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.
West Virginia has a whole new package of offensive playmakers. The new faces could tame William & Mary. But can they do the same in Norman?
Neither team has a list of starters cast in stone. Playing time will be meted a little differently than it was against Louisiana-Monroe and William & Mary.
The words from the Broadway musical say, “OOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain,” but they were changed in 2012 to read “OOOk-lahoma, where the offense comes sweepin’ and the defense is often abused.”
There might not be a total of 99 points scored on Saturday evening. But either side will gladly celebrate a one-point win.