Will Grier

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No. 11 Oklahoma State heads to Bedlam at 7-1 after road win at No. 22 WVU

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The stage is nearly set for a massive Bedlam game next week. No. 11 Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) overcame a sloppy start on offense and rallied when West Virginia (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) started to make some noise to be able to leave Morgantown with a 50-39 victory in a game that featured nine turnovers. The win on the road keeps Oklahoma State in the thick of the Big 12 championship hunt with a big one coming up next week.

Oklahoma State’s defense had to answer the call early on by holding down West Virginia following two early fumbles by Oklahoma State running backs Justice Hill and J.D. King. Not being able to score any points off those early turnovers would set the tone for the game for West Virginia. Needing to play a clean game against the Cowboys, West Virginia failed to net any point son three turnovers before finally managing to make some plays with a blocked punt in the end zone for a score and a pick-six just moments away in the third quarter. The flurry of non-offensive touchdowns cut into a sizable Oklahoma State lead, trimming a 20-point deficit to a six-point margin But in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys got their offense rolling once again and the defense did their part as well.

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier was picked off four times in the game and he struggled to connect with his receivers all game long. Oklahoma State closed well on defense for the majority of the game and never let West Virginia get a good chance to get their hands on the ball through the air. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph passed for 216 yards and three touchdowns, with James Washington scoring two of those touchdowns. Hill left the game in the first quarter to be evaluated for head and neck injuries and a lower leg injury, but he later returned to the game. In his absence, King overcame his early turnover to power Oklahoma State on the ground with 149 rushing yards and a score.

Now, all eyes can properly be set on next week’s big home game against the Oklahoma Sooners. And the impact this one will have on the Big 12 championship picture cannot be overstated. The loser of this game likely falls out of the Big 12 championship hunt with a second loss in conference play. That would be a bit of a far cry from the preseason expectations of a possible Bedlam rematch in the Big 12 championship game, but the stakes for next week will remain high regardless. The loser is also falling off the playoff radar entirely while the winner keeps the dream alive.

Oklahoma State has lost two in a row to the Sooners and four of the last five meetings. Oklahoma State’s last win against the Sooners was in 2014, and the last time they won in Stillwater was 2011. Next week’s clash at Oklahoma State is slated for 4:00 p.m. ET.

West Virginia will host Iowa State next Saturday. The Cyclones will be coming off a home game against TCU.

West Virginia fails to cash in early OK State turnovers and trails by 13

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The beginning of the game in cold and dreary Morgantown could not have started any better for West Virginia’s defense, but the Mountaineers were unable to take advantage of two fumble recoveries in the first five minutes of the game, and now West Virginia trails Oklahoma State at halftime, 23-10.

Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill ripped a 39-yard run on the first play of the game but then fumbled on the next play. Hill also left the game to be evaluated for head and neck pain and a left leg injury. He has not returned to the game. His backup, J.D. King fumbled away the ball on Oklahoma State’s second possession of the game. After each turnover, the Cowboys defense answered the call by forcing a punt after the first fumble and coming up with an interception of Will Grier on the first play after the King fumble. Those missed opportunities, along with having to settle for a field goal from the Oklahoma State six-yard line, could come back to haunt the Mountaineers at home.

The combination of Mason Rudolph to James Washington got the Pokes in the endzone and on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter, and a Rudolph touchdown run from one yard out later in the first quarter gave Oklahoma State a 13-0 lead (a botched hold on an extra point cost Oklahoma State one point. Later in the second quarter, King made up for his earlier fumble by running straight up the gut of the West Virginia defense for a 20-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage after the Cowboys recovered a West Virginia fumble.

West Virginia managed to score a touchdown in the final minute of the half with Kennedy McKoy managing to cross the goal line for a tough one-yard score. It was tough because the exchange between Grier and McKoy was nothing but awkward.

Josh Jackson shines as No. 21 Virginia Tech wins thriller against Will Grier and No. 22 West Virginia

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After playing one half of defensive football, No. 21 Virginia Tech (1-0) and No. 22 West Virginia (0-1) opened up the offenses in the second half and traded touchdowns for the last 30 minutes. In the end, the Hokies held on for a nail-biter of a win, 31-24 thanks to a brilliant debut from quarterback Josh Jackson.

The freshman had some rough moments but still turned in an admirable effort against a West Virginia team that can play some decent defense as well. Jackson passed for 235 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a team-high 101 yards and another score. Justin Fuente needed his young quarterback to shine in a back-and-forth game like this on the big stage, and he got it. Jackson emerged as a star in his first game, and the Hokies overall look once again to be a top contender in the ACC Coastal Divison, and they could even be ready to make a run at the conference crown if they play like this all season long.

Not to be overlooked in the loss is the play of West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. In his first start since 2015 with the Florida Gators, Grier passed for 371 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. Grier also put together 52 hard-earned yards on the ground, highlighted by a hurdle to keep a drive moving on the final drive of the game. Grier put the Mountaineers into position to tie the game, but a couple of last-ditch efforts were unable to get in the endzone.

West Virginia running back Justin Crawford also turned in a 106-yard performance, and both teams went for over 200 yards on the ground. The teams also combined for 50 first downs and had just one turnover in the game. An interception thrown by Grier led to nothing more than a Virginia Tech punt three plays later.

It was a toss-up game from start to finish, and ended with both teams having chances to grab a win. Virginia Tech just managed to find a few more plays.

There are few games you witness and feel good about both teams heading forward this early in the season. Both West Virginia and Virginia Tech look as though they will be able to have strong seasons if Sunday night was any indication of what to expect from each this fall. Both the Big 12 and ACC should be put on alert about these two teams.

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen cost his team some yardage in the second half when he crossed the line and stepped on the field. This season, officials are being more strict with coaches stepping on the playing field. Moments after chasing down a ref over a call he didn’t like, Holgorsen had a flag thrown on him for stepping on the field while West Virginia was being called for a holding penalty. The 15-yard penalty to Holgorsen helped turn a 3rd and 1 into a 3rd and 26, moving the ball from the Virginia Tech 23-yard line back to the Tech 48-yard line.

Virginia Tech will open up their home schedule next week against Delaware. West Virginia will also play at home next week, as they host East Carolina (who just lost to the top-ranked FCS team, James Madison).

Hokies take late first half lead in defensive battle with West Virginia

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Old Big East rivals Virginia Tech and West Virginia are locked in an entertaining defensive battle in Landover, Maryland. After one half of play, the No. 21 Hokies hold a 10-7 lead on the No. 22 Mountaineers thanks to a touchdown run from freshman quarterback Josh Jackson.

West Virginia’s Will Grier has been given some good protection from his offensive line in his first start with an FBS program since being suspended by Florida in 2015. Grier isn’t lighting up the Hokies defense, which very few players and teams are capable of doing anyway, so it has been a smart and steady evening of work so far for Grier with 15-of-24 going for 105 yards and a touchdown, and 13 rushing yards. Justin Crawford leads all players with 85 rushing yards for West Virginia, which is more rushing yards than Virgina Tech has as a team (68).

Virginia Tech has also broken in new quarterback Josh Jackson, who has had flashes of solid play as well. Jackson has also had to play efficiently for the Hokies rather than break open many big plays, but he has had his moments.

The story of the first half, however, has been the defenses. The hitting has been fierce at times, and the Mountaineers have exhibited something rarely seen from a Big 12 team by forcing three consecutive three-and-outs after Grier tossed a poor interception to Virginia Tech’s Trevon Hill. It wasn’t one of Grier’s finer moments.

But he did make up for it later in the first half with a touchdown pass to David Sills to give the Mountaineers a 7-3 lead.

Jackson led the Hokies on a nice touchdown drive to close out the first half, finishing the drive himself with a nice run up the middle of the West Virginia defense to reclaim the lead.

Report: West Virginia QB Will Grier to be eligible for 2017 season opener

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When quarterback Will Grier was suspended halfway through the 2015 season at Florida due to a failed PED test, it was expected he would be out of action for at least the first half of the 2016 season. Now at West Virginia, Grier will reportedly have to wait until 2017 to play again.

Mike Casazza of The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports, via Twitter, Grier will be eligible for the 2017 season opener as long as he meets eligibility requirements by that point in time.

As previously reported, it was expected Grier would have to sit out the entire 2016 season due to NCAA transfer rules. What was previously unknown was whether he would have to sit out the first six games of the 2017 season as well to honor the suspension’s length. Apparently that will not be the case. That should be good news for Grier, as he is itching to get back on the field as quickly as possible.

For those planning ahead, Grier’s first game where he will be eligible to play at West Virginia will be against Virginia Tech in a game to be played at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland (home of the Washington Redskins of the NFL) on September 2, 2017. Let the countdown begin.