[countdown id=”464″ show_venue=”1″ show_league=”1″ align=”none”]
Kickoff: 3:30 est
Weather: Partly cloudy high of 61º
|Points Per Game||42.8||32.4|
|Points Allowed Per Game||31.6||18.8|
|Pass Yards Allowed||255.6||220.6|
|Rush Yards Allowed||204.6||126.9|
West Virginia still has a shot at making the Big XII title game, but they must win their last four games to give themselves a chance. It all starts with Iowa State this week, that come in ranked #15 in the college football playoff rankings.
The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 4-1. The Cyclones only win against West Virginia came in the second meeting between the two programs in 2013. Iowa State was down 17 in Morgantown with thirteen minutes left in the game and would come back to steal a victory in triple overtime, 52-44. Since then, West Virginia has won three straight and have outscored Iowa State 116-49
Iowa State has played above expectations this year and no one seen this coming. They sit at the top of the Big XII standings at 4-1 and 6-2 overall. The Cyclones have beat some of the best teams in the conference, they went into Norman, Oklahoma and beat the undefeated Sooners 38-31 and just last week, they gave TCU their first loss of the season in Ames, Iowa 14-7.
The key to the Cyclones success, has been their defense. They are in the top four in every defensive statistical category in the Big XII. Their biggest stat is turnovers. They lead the conference in forced turnovers (17) and fewest turnovers (7).
The Cyclone defense will throw multiple looks at the Mountaineers. Their base defense is 4-3, but will throw the 3-3-5 look at opposing offenses.
Their defensive line is tough, and they have some of the best defensive tackles in the league with Ray Lima (6’3”, 306-lb) Jamahl Johnson (6’0”, 314-lb) and Vernell Trent (6’3”, 282-lb). Add two great defensive ends JaQuan Bailey (6’2”, 260-lb) and J.D. Waggoner (6’3”, 248-lb) and you have arguably the best defensive line in the league.
West Virginia’s offensive line as looked soft in recent weeks. This will be a big test for the big men up front. If they can create some space for the running game, the Cyclone defensive line won’t be able to just tee off on Mountaineer quarterback Will Grier.
The heart of the Cyclone defense come from the middle linebacker Joel Lanning. If you don’t remember, he was their starting quarterback last year and made the transition to the defense in the off-season. Lanning leads the team in tackles with 87, 6 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks and an interception.
If the West Virginia offensive line can create a hole in the defensive line, getting a body on the linebackers will be a challenge. Linebackers Marcell Spears and Willie Harvey compliment Lanning in the middle of that defense with their speed and athleticism. The running backs for the Mountaineers will have to make some plays if they want to get the running game going.
The secondary for Iowa State, might possibly be the best in the conference. Free safety Kamari Cotton-Moya, covers the back end of this secondary, while strong safety Reggie Wilkerson roams the field making his presence felt. Cornerback Brain Peavy will make it tough on the West Virginia receivers to get open. He is currently 8th in the Big XII in passes defended (8).
This secondary will be a challenge for the Mountaineer receivers. This is a physical secondary and the Mountaineers did not respond when getting punched in the mouth a week ago. It was an abnormal game for them, I expect them to come out and have a much better game this week.
The offense for the Cyclones is not what you expect from the top team in the Big XII. They are not flashy, in fact they are 8th in the Big XII in total yards per game. (382.2).
They are last in the league in rushing yards per game (112.9) and 7th in passing yards per game (269.4).
What they are good at is, taking care of the ball and taking advantage of field position.
To start the year, Jacob Park was the Cyclones play caller, but he left the team for personal health issues after their loss to Texas back on September 28th. Since then it’s been red shirt Junior Kyle Kempt. He made his first start against Oklahoma with a win and hasn’t looked back on their four-game winning streak.
Kempt (74-111 859 yards, 66.7%, 9 TD 2 int) is no tyour typical Big XII quarterback, but he gets the job done. He has a big-time playmaker on the outside with 6’5” 222-lb Allen Lazard (39 rec, 477 yards, 5 TD) but don’t overlook the other Cyclone receivers. Hakeem Butler, Trever Ryan and Marchie Murdock can all hit you with a big play.
Iowa State will lean on the run game with David Montgomery (156 carries 716 yards 8 TD). He can be explosive ripping off yardage in chunks and can finish a drive in the red zone.
With a physical team like Iowa State coming into Morgantown it looks bleak for the Mountaineers after getting man handled last week by an Oklahoma State team, that is not known to be physical.
The Mountaineer offense had a tough game last Saturday with by far their worst performance of the year, but I don’t see that becoming a trend this week. West Virginia has faced tough defenses already this year and put up the points and yards against the best defense in the conference, in TCU.
I’m taking the Mountaineers to win this game. Iowa State doesn’t have a high-powered offense and Tony Gibson has improved his defense each week.
I know the offense struggled last week, but they will come out this week with something to prove.
This is going to be a stressful game for Mountaineer fans, but West Virginia goes on to win the game 31-28.