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College Sports: 5 thoughts from Oklahoma’s classic victory over West Virginia: Kyler Murray, defensive scores lead the way

Here are five thoughts from Oklahoma’s 59-56 win at West Virginia on Friday night:

The game was what we thought it would be

Sometimes, games billed as potential shootouts fail to meet expectations. That certainly wasn’t the case here, as the Sooners and Mountaineers combined for 115 points and 1,372 yards. There were defensive moments — OU did punt once — but for the most part, it was an offensive day. The Sooners averaged 10.3 yards per play to the Mountaineers’ 7.8. 

Kyler Murray’s big plays

On the other hand, Kyler Murray was outstanding vs. the Mountaineers. He finished with 364 yards on 20-of-27 passing including three scores. He also rushed for 114 yards on nine carries and a score. Most importantly, he iced the game on the final drive with a fourth-down conversion to CeeDee Lamb and a clutch first-down run a few plays later.

Murray did make a couple of questionable decisions, but he made huge plays to Marquise Brown and Lamb. Grant Calcaterra and Carson Meier also caught timely balls from Murray. Perhaps his most impressive play of the night came early in the game, when he broke contain for a 55-yard touchdown run.

Murray’s big turnovers

Murray was sensational, but he did commit a pair of turnovers. Murray fumbled in the first half as the Sooners were driving, though West Virginia wasn’t able to capitalize. But in the second half, the Heisman Trophy contender threw an interception on third down in the end zone that the Mountaineers were able to make use of, tying the game 35-all on the ensuing drive. Murray’s numbers are as good or better than any player in the country, but he’s caught the turnover bug in key spots this year — most notably vs. Texas and at Texas Tech.

Defensive scores

Oklahoma’s defense did what it hasn’t done all season: Force turnovers. More specifically, fumbles. Oklahoma managed a scoop-and-score in each half — Caleb Kelly in the first and Curtis Bolton in the second. Both were impactful, but Bolton’s touchdown especially seemed to have an effect on the game, putting Oklahoma up by two scores. Those big plays went against the grain for what Oklahoma is used to — the Sooners’ defense had forced just one fumble all season entering Friday.

Oklahoma’s goals are still there

With the win, Oklahoma will face Texas and gets the chance to avenge its only loss of the season in the Big 12 title game. If the Sooners prevail, it would be their fourth straight Big 12 championship. And if Oklahoma gets a little help from Ohio State (vs. Michigan) and Alabama (vs. Georgia in two weeks), it could find itself back in the College Football Playoff.

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