(After this preview was written, Michigan hired West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez to succeed Lou Carr. Oklahoma offensive coordinator Ken Sumlin was hired by Houston to succeed Art Briles who left to coach Baylor. Sumlin is staying with Oklahoma through the Fiesta Bowl).
Both of these teams suffered late-season losses that prevented them from appearing in the BCS title game. Oklahoma lost at Texas Tech in week 11, and West Virginia was a huge upset victim on the final weekend when it bowed at home to Pittsburgh.
West Virginia is playing in the Fiesta Bowl for just the second time in history. The Mountaineers were blown out 34-21 by eventual national champion Notre Dame in their last visit here at the end of the 1988 season.
Oklahoma is returning to the scene of last year's upset loss to Boise State in one of the most-thrilling bowl games ever played. The Sooners are making their fourth trip to the Fiesta Bowl where they are 1-2 in their previous appearances. They have not won a Fiesta Bowl since their inaugural trip to this game in the 1976 season.
Statistically, there isn't much separating these two teams.
West Virginia ranks 4th in the nation in rushing offense, and 11th in point production. Oklahoma's balanced offense is 30th in rushing and 37th in passing. In total offense, the Sooners rank 18th and the Mountaineers are 19th.
West Virginia ranks 4th in total defense while Oklahoma checks in at 18th. The Mountaineers are 7th in scoring defense and the Sooners are ranked 9th.
West Virginia RB posted 1,053 yards rushing and 348 receiving. His 18 total TD's were second in the Big East to Rutgers' Ray Rice, and 18th in the nation.
But it was QB Pat White who led the team in rushing and passing. White scampered for 1,185 yards and 14 TD's. He threw for 1,548 yards and 12 scores with just 4 interceptions.
White's go-to receiver is Darrius Reynaud who has caught 59 of the teams' 165 completed passes (35.76%). His 698 receiving yards easily outdistance Slaton who is second on the team in that department.
West Virginia has another dangerous runner coming off the bench in Noel Devine who averaged 8.65 yards per carry and scored 4 TD's while rushing for 519 yards.
Speaking of talented freshmen, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford leads the nation in pass efficiency with a rating of 180.53. Bob Stoops knew what he had in a QB when Bradford's debut game against North Texas saw him complete 18 passes in a row and finish the day with 363 yards in a 21-of-23 performance.
For the season, Bradford threw 34 TD passes and just 7 INT's. He completed 70% of his passes for 2,879 yards while leading an offense that ranked 3rd nationally at over 43 points per game.
Oklahoma is playing in a bowl game for the 9th straight season. West Virginia is making a school record sixth straight bowl appearance.