MORGANTOWN — On a day WVU will retire the number of one of it’s all-time great quarterbacks, the on-field battle will feature two of the hottest signal-callers in the Big 12 between the Mountaineers and Oklahoma State.
Major Harris will have his No. 9 permanently shelved, joining linebacker Darryl Talley as a former player to have his number retired this season. Harris starred at WVU from 1987-89, now known for being ahead of his time as a fleet-of-foot, electric playmaker who led the Mountaineers to the national title game following an unbeaten 1988 campaign.
Harris had 1,161 rushing yards with 18 touchdowns to go along with 5,173 passing yards and 41 touchdowns through the air in his three-year career.
He will be honored with an on-field presentation during the first half Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.
But Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders and WVU’s Jarret Doege are both playing at a high level and could steal the show from “The Maj,” with both playing arguably the best football of their careers.
Doege had his best game at WVU last week at Iowa State, finishing with 370 yards and three touchdowns in the Mountaineers’ (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) upset win over Iowa State.
No. 11 Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1) crushed Kansas last week, though two weeks ago, the Cowboys had their only loss of the season at Iowa State.
Regardless, Sanders is playing at a high level, and while his numbers don’t pop with 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns, he’s taking care of the ball and controlling the offense better than he ever has.
Although Sanders has been the starter at OSU for three years, this will be the first time WVU faces him — he was out with an injury the last two seasons, still Oklahoma State wins.
The Mountaineers haven’t beaten the Cowboys since 2014.
WVU head coach Neal Brown knows OSU wants to run the ball first with Jaylen Warren, but if it can establish the run, it leaves defenses vulnerable over the top with big pass plays.
“He’s a dual-threat guy,” Brown said of Sanders. “He’s strong, he can run, he has a really strong arm, he can make all the throws and they utilize him a lot in the red zone.”
Both QBs will be tasked with facing two of the best defenses in the Big 12, however. Oklahoma State leads the conference in points allowed per game (18), and is second in yards allowed per game (295) and pass yards allowed per game (200.1)
Iowa State leads the Big 12 in pass defense, though — the same Cyclones defense that was torched by Doege a week ago.
“They’re going to bring some pressure,” Doege said. “We’ve got to win our one-on-ones, we’ve got to protect again and I’ve really got to be decisive in my decisions again.”