MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia defensive lineman Reese Donahue is feeling all the emotions this week as he and 21 other seniors prepare for their final home game.
Donahue is bittersweet about suiting up one last time at Mountaineer Field on Saturday against No. 22 Oklahoma State (7-3, 4-3 Big 12).
He’s eager to see how the Mountaineers (4-6, 2-5) handle national rusher leader Chuba Hubbard.
And he’s determined to grind out wins in the final two games to get bowl eligible.
“It’s been a great ride,” said Donahue, a three-year starter. “It’s kind of hard to think about it right now. I’m sure it will probably hit me when the time rolls around.”
Donahue’s biggest moment didn’t happen during a game — he proposed to his girlfriend, Sarah Moore, at midfield after beating Kansas in October 2018.
To go out a winner on Saturday, Donahue and the Mountaineers probably must do what no one else could — keep Hubbard in check. The sophomore leads the nation with 1,726 rushing yards and has scored 20 touchdowns. He has 100-yard rushing efforts in eight straight games.
“They’ve also got a good line to block for him,” Donahue said. “You’ve got to give credit where it’s due. They’re going to a task for us this week and we’re excited to handle them.”
There’s also the pursuit of redemption for West Virginia’s defense. A year ago, Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tylan Wallace with 42 seconds left for a 45-41 victory over the Mountaineers in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
“We have a lot to play for,” Donahue said. “Think about it: Chance at a bowl. Senior Night. The way things went down last year at Oklahoma State. Sending the seniors out the right way. Why would you not want to play as hard as you can and prepare the best you can? We’ve got two games left. After that, we’re not guaranteed anything. Why would you not want to lay it all on the line?”
Hubbard rushed for a then-career high 134 yards against WVU last year and has only gotten better. He’s surpassed 200 rushing yards four times this season, including 296 yards against Kansas State.
“We're trying to get that man to 2,000 yards as fast as we can,” said Oklahoma State offensive lineman Marcus Keyes. “We love the hype and are trying to run people over to get the biggest runs we can for him."
Some other things to know when the Cowboys and Mountaineers meet on Saturday:
Oklahoma State is coming off a 31-13 victory over Kansas and is going after its fourth straight win, which would be its longest streak since 2017. The Cowboys also have next week’s Bedlam game with No. 8 Oklahoma at home to finish the regular season but can’t look past West Virginia.
Oklahoma State has forced 10 turnovers in its last three games. Sophomore safety Kolby Harvell-Peel has four interceptions and a fumble recovery in the last two.
“In the game today, you win the turnover battle, you minimize big plays and you tackle well, particularly in this league, it gives you a chance to win,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
West Virginia sings John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” after every home win — something that hasn’t been done since Sept. 14. The Mountaineers have lost three straight at home. The last time they lost four in a season at Mountaineer Field was in 1990, when they finished with five home losses.
West Virginia senior safety Josh Norwood’s career is over after breaking his collarbone on a leaping interception last week at Kansas State. Norwood underwent surgery this week.
West Virginia’s rushing total of 767 yards this season is less than half of Hubbard’s total. The Mountaineers haven’t come close to having a 100-yard individual rushing performance.