Chugunov gets start vs Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. – West Virginia concludes its regular season Saturday at Gaylord Family – Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma, against third-ranked Oklahoma.

The 10-1 Sooners have already clinched a spot in next weekend’s Big 12 Championship game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas and are also in prime position to land one of the four places in this year’s College Football Playoff.

West Virginia (7-5) has already locked up a sixth bowl game and can achieve its fourth eight-win campaign in seven seasons under Coach Dana Holgorsen with one more victory.

“This is personally my favorite week of the season, not necessarily who we’re playing, but as far as just what the weekly routine is,” Holgorsen said. “It’s a football week. There are less distractions and it has everything to do with just football and your football family and getting to spend a little more time with each other.”

Oklahoma announced earlier this week top Heisman Trophy candidate Baker Mayfield will not start Saturday’s game against the Mountaineers as punishment for his sideline antics last week at Kansas, but he is expected to play.

West Virginia will be without starting quarterback Will Grier, who injured the middle finger on his throwing hand in the first quarter of last Saturday’s loss to Texas and underwent surgery to repair the damaged digit on Sunday.

Holgorsen said earlier this week Grier is expected to be sidelined four-to-six weeks, which means backup Chris Chugunov will get the starting nod tomorrow against the Sooners.

“I can’t remember the last time we’ve been in this situation,” Holgorsen said. “What do we have to lose? Let’s go play ball. Let’s have fun and let’s rally around Chugs and play our tails off.

“The season changes drastically if we can go win this one. Nobody expects us to win, everybody gets that. They’re a great team but I still think we have some pretty capable football players that are going to rally around that quarterback, who might be pretty dang good, so let’s go out there and cut it loose and have some fun.”

Chugunov completed 14-of-26 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown last Saturday against the Longhorns, and has now passed for 285 yards and two touchdowns in six career games for WVU.

Gary Jennings Jr. needs eight catches to top 100 receptions in a season for the Mountaineers. He also already topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yardage with 1,016.

Ka’Raun White needs 30 yards to reach 1,000 for this year while David Sills V needs 97 to eclipse 1,000 yards.

Senior running back Justin Crawford can also reach the century mark in rushing with 37 yards on Saturday. Crawford now shows 2,147 yards and 11 touchdowns in 24 career games for West Virginia.

“When you get an opportunity to go play football this week against that team, you should be pretty jacked up about it,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t think I’m going to have to do a whole lot for us to get up.”

A 3:45 p.m. EST kickoff is tabbed for Saturday’s game, which will be televised nationally on ESPN (Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay).

The Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG’s coverage begins at noon on stations throughout West Virginia, online via WVUsports.com as well as the mobile app TuneIn.

Here is Saturday’s Countdown to Kickoff:

10 – The Mountaineer offense has had TEN scoring drives of 10 plays or more, but 32 scoring drives of 70 yards or longer this season.

9 – Oklahoma ranks NINTH in the country in fewest interceptions with five this week.

8 – There will be EIGHT redshirt seniors playing on West Virginia’s defense Saturday.

7 – The defense has had SEVEN different players register double-digit tackles this season, including sophomore outside linebacker David Long Jr., who has done it three times.

6 – Senior middle linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton ranks SIXTH in the country with 66 solo tackles this week. He now shows 201 total tackles for his career.

5 – West Virginia has won at least FIVE Big 12 games for the third time since joining the conference in 2012. Including this year’s five victories, the Mountaineers won five league games in 2014 and seven last year.

4 – The Mountaineer defense has scored FOUR touchdowns in the last two seasons – two coming from true freshman Kenny Robinson. He returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown against Oklahoma State and had a 94-yard, pick-six against Texas last Saturday.

3 – Junior receiver Gary Jennings Jr. ranks THIRD in the country this week with an average of 8.4 receptions per game.

2 – West Virginia has lost just TWICE in November under Dana Holgorsen since 2015, going 9-2 over that span of games.

1 – The Mountaineers are currently ONE game over .500 in Big 12 play under Holgorsen with a 27-26 record heading into Saturday’s game against the Sooners.

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