Oklahoma loses top rusher Keith Ford in dominant win

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Oklahoma should have been able to celebrate a key victory over a Southeastern Conference opponent that delineated them as a top contender for this year's college football playoffs.

Instead, the fourth-ranked Sooners are left lamenting the loss of one of their best players.

Team-leading rusher Keith Ford will be held out of next week's contest against West Virginia. The sophomore has rushed for 194 yards and five touchdowns this season, and is expected to miss at least two to three weeks with an ankle fracture.

Ford is also the Sooners' third-leading receiver, with 100 receiving yards through three games.

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Lost in huge win

Ford had to have been happy with his game on Saturday, when he carried the ball 15 times for 56 yards and a score to boot.

But Ford was injured late in the 34-10 matchup versus Tennessee, a SEC doormat the past few years who nonetheless looks to be improved.

Luckily for Ford, the slight fracture occurred on a non-weight-bearing bone, meaning that damage should be minimal and healing time reduced.

Still, the first-time starter was having as good of a start as one could imagine, with two touchdowns in each of his previous contests.

Oklahoma is known for its history of bell cow ball-carriers, from All-American Adrian Peterson to 1978 Heisman winner Billy Sims.

After Ford began to emerge as the next athlete in that lineage, an injury like this could derail his sudden ascent.

Important game coming

The Sooners will be traveling to West Virginia next week for what promises to be a challenging Big 12 matchup.

While Oklahoma will certainly be the favorite, it faces a Mountaineers team that played Alabama to a competitive 33-23 loss in the season opener, then put up 40 points in a win over Maryland this week.

Simply put, this is not a week to rest on the Mountaineers.

First-year player Samaje Perine and sophomore Alex Ross will try to be the stopgap at the running back position. The former looks like the better option, after carrying nine times for 67 yards in the Tennessee game.

What Perine lacks in experience, he makes up in raw talent: the true freshman is a bruiser at 5-foot-11 and 243 pounds. Yet he's also shown the type of straight-line speed to break big runs in limited action, with longs of 31 yards against Tennessee and 14 yards against Louisiana Tech.

Quarterback Trevor Knight is still the engine that makes this offense hum with his dual-threat ability, but it will take some hardnosed runners on the ground to make sure Oklahoma doesn't disappoint after its hot start.

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