String of losses leaves Mountaineers sore at Sooners

FRISCO, Texas — When he’s not battling zombies on Fortnite, linebacker David Long devotes free time to battling the ghosts of old West Virginia games on YouTube.

The ones against Oklahoma sting the most.

Standard-setters in the Big 12, the Sooners swept all six meetings since WVU entered the league, in 2012. Since Long came aboard, three years ago, the outcomes have turned particularly lopsided:

Oklahoma won, 44-24, in 2015 to knock West Virginia out of the Top 25. O.U. rolled, 56-28, in 2016 to banish WVU from league title chase. In last season’s finale, O.U. coasted, 59-31, while piling up 649 yards.

Long won’t allow himself to believe the Sooners’ talent warrants such a string of blowouts.

“I’m a sore loser, and I know we haven’t given them our best shot,” he said. “I know how good we can be and it’s not showing. That’s what irritates me the most.”

Long points to pregame skirmishes and extended bouts of trash-talking as evidence of his teammates losing their discipline. That leads to missed assignments and coverage busts, the kind Baker Mayfield exploited like an all-America quarterback should.

“When we play Oklahoma, there’s always a lot of emotions involved,” Long said. “We’re too hyped, instead of settling down and just playing the game.”

Picked second in the Big 12 this season, the Mountaineers once again draw Oklahoma for a final-week match-up. Winning that game in Morgantown “would mean everything,” fifth-year senior left tackle Yodny Cajuste said. That could send WVU to the Big 12 title game, possibly for a rematch against the Sooners, who are seeking to four-peat.

“Our prior teams didn’t believe in ourselves against Oklahoma,” Cajuste said Tuesday. “This team is different.”

WVU joins Texas Tech and Kansas as the only Big 12 teams that haven’t beaten O.U. since the current 10-team iteration of the Big 12 formed under realignment. Of late, the Sooners widened the divide between them and the rest of the league, going 26-2 the last three seasons.

“They’ve got the best players,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They’re recruiting at a very high level and there’s a talent gap. Plus they have a lot of trophies they look at, so they expect to win.

“Everybody else has to improve.”

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