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Sun Bowl : Oklahoma St. Is Wary of West Virginia

December 25, 1987|From United Press International

EL PASO, Tex. — Oklahoma State Coach Pat Jones says the worst thing anyone can do is compare his team's 9-2 record with West Virginia's 6-5 mark.

"Their record is not very indicative at all of how they played, and how they played the last month of the season," said Jones, whose Cowboys face the Mountaineers today in the Sun Bowl (Channel 2, 11:30 a.m.).

"They lost to Penn State by four points, and I still don't know how they lost to Syracuse. They are not a 6-5 team."

Oklahoma State, which lost only to Oklahoma and Nebraska, is making its fourth bowl appearance in the last five seasons. West Virginia is playing for the first time in postseason since the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl.

The game will be the final college appearance for Oklahoma State running back Thurman Thomas, the school's all-time leading rusher with 4,847 yards. He was the third-leading rusher in the nation this season with 1,613 yards.

Thomas, who averaged 146.6 yards a game and 6.4 yards a carry, is backed by receiver Hart Lee Dykes and quarterback Mike Gundy. Oklahoma State averaged 423 yards total offense and 34 points a game.

The game will feature two quarterbacks with promising futures.

Gundy, a sophomore, threw for 2,106 yards and 13 touchdowns. His top receiver was Dykes, a junior, who had 61 catches for 978 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Major Harris, a freshman, threw for 1,146 yards and 10 touchdowns for West Virginia.

The Mountaineers also use a wishbone at times and spring Harris for long runs. He has 512 yards in 119 carries, including a 64-yard touchdown run.

The Mountaineers have the nation's 10th-ranked defense, which is strong against the run and led by honorable mention All-America lineman David Grant.

West Virginia dropped three of its first four games, then lost only to Penn State and Syracuse in its final seven.

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