By Arnie Leshin
Mountaineer Field at Milan Pucker Stadium where West Virginia football is played, there’s the cannon beyond the end zone that fires away when the Mountaineers score. Nothing harmful, just a loud home field touch before the scoreboard posts the touchdown, field goal, even a safety.
That’s where red-hot Oklahoma would have been Saturday night, but the coronaviruspandemic positive tests scratched it, rescheduled it for Saturday Dec. 12, and with the Sooners now home to Baylor next Saturday while Iowa State plays a key game today at Texas. The Baylor-Oklahoma game had been scheduled for the Saturday after the Mountaineers’ tilt, and this remains the same.
As the Big 12 season winds down in these COPID-12 times, Iowa State, 6-2 overall and 6-1 in conference, Oklahoma, also 6-2 overall and 5-2 in conference, are close to matching up in the conference championship game to be played at Jerry Jones’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex.
The Sooners, after losing two tight games to start the campaign at home versus Kansas State, and then the following week at Iowa State, have now reeled off five-straight wins, and that includes over Texas and Oklahoma State. The Longhorns are 5-2 overall and 4-2 in conference, the Cowboys also 5-2 and 4-2. But therein lies the tiebreakers that Oklahoma owns.
In the important 41-13 victory over visiting Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Brawl last week, it was yet another impressive game put together from true freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler, while defensive end/linebacker Ron Perkins, reinstated after a 5-game suspension, were named the Big 12 offensive and defensive players of the week, respectively. It was also the seventh-straight triumph over their state rivals.
The Sooners, who began the season ranked 22nd and then out of the polls at 0-2, have jumped to the current No. 11 spot and the Cyclones are ranked 13th. Meanwhile, West Virginia is 5-3 overall and 4-3 in conference, and Baylor has lost five of six as slumping Kansas State (4-4) visits the Bears.
Also on the Friday menu, there’s 2nd-ranked, undefeated Notre Dame (8-0) at No. 22 North Carolina (6-2), winless Massachusetts (0-3) at previous unbeaten Liberty, now 8-1, and undefeated 9th-ranked Oregon (3-0) at state-rival Oregon State (1-2). There are others, but these are the key contests.
On Saturday, while Oklahoma and West Virginia get the weekend off, No. 1 Alabama, unbeaten in seven outings, greets visiting 19th-ranked Auburn (5-2), No. 3 Ohio State (4-0) plays at Illinois (2-3), No. 4 Clemson(7-1) plays host to 5-4 Pittsburgh, No. 5 Texas A & M hosts LSU (3-3), (No. 6 Florida (6-1) is home to 3-5 Kentucky, No. 8 Georgia (5-2) at 2-6 South Carolina, No. 13 Indiana (4-1) welcomes Maryland (2-1), No. 14 Coastal Carolina (8-0) at 2-9 Texas State, and No. 16 Northwestern (5-0) is at struggling Michigan State (1-3).
There are other unbeatens that are unranked. There’s 4-0 San Jose State at 4-1 Boise State, Nevada (5-0) traveling to take on Hawaii (2-3), Kent State (3-0) at also undefeated Buffalo (3-0).
Other Saturday postponements are No. 8 Miami at Wake Forest, No. 25 Tulsa at Houston, Tennessee at Vanderbilt, Arkansas at Missouri, and Memphis at Tulane.
As of now, the playoffs for college football’s Final Four lists Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Clemson, whose lone loss was at the Irish.