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Keys to Victory: WVU-Cincinnati to Come Down to Battle of Trenches

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Zach Frazier and WVU Football Offensive Line and QB Garrett Greene

Everything that could go wrong went wrong for WVU last week in Norman. And Oklahoma took advantage, dominating the Mountaineers all night long. Fast forward one week and the pressure is now back on Neal Brown and West Virginia to end the season on a high note.

With only two games remaining in the regular season, there’s not much time left for Brown to prove the program is in fact climbing and headed in the right direction. Saturday’s matchup with Cincinnati is the last opportunity for WVU to impress in front of the home fans and clinch a winning record for the year.

And despite coming off a disappointing performance, the 6-4 (4-3) Mountaineers are considered the favorite over a Cincinnati team that’s struggled throughout their first season as a member of the Big 12.

But as has often been the case around the country this season, oddsmakers can be wrong. What does West Virginia need to do to ensure the Bearcats don’t ruin WVU’s big day of celebrating and honoring the past?

WVU Offensive Line Must Be at Their Best

After enduring a rare loss in the battle of the trenches, the WVU offensive line needs to bounce back and get back to their standard. With that said, the Mountaineer line can’t just assume they’ll be fine on Saturday.

Cincinnati brings a formidable counterpart in their defensive line, a group that may send multiple players to the NFL.

And while no unit on any team is ever going to be perfect, the offensive line has been a driving force for the Mountaineers this season. Obviously, a run heavy team needs its offensive line to be at its best.

Garrett Greene Needs to Bounce Back

There’s no way West Virginia would already be bowl eligible without Garrett Greene’s heroics this season. But for as good as he’s been, he’s also shown his youth by making costly mistakes at times too. It’s fair to say his performance against the Sooners was his worst as WVU’s starting quarterback.

Takeaways: WVU Looks Vulnerable After Being Exposed by Sooners

He absolutely can’t let that happen again. Last week, Greene completed only 10 out of 37 pass attempts for just 154 yards. He spent most of the game misfiring or overthrowing receivers, although to be fair the receivers dropped some balls and didn’t do him any favors either.

No excuse about the receivers, valid or not, will work if his level of play doesn’t get back to where it was prior to the Oklahoma game.

Do NOT Lose the Turnover Battle

Upsets can often be traced to the turnover battle. West Virginia has proved to be the better team this year, but anyone can be beat if they turn the ball over.

Ideally for WVU, this would mean playing a clean game and taking care of the football on offense. But if Greene and company do turn it over once or twice, it will then be up to the defense to actually capitalize and create a takeaway of their own.

The West Virginia defense has been one of the most aggressive units in the country, even leading the nation in ball-hawk rate, but that’s not necessarily a positive when you miss out on multiple turnovers a game. Deflections and dropped picks won’t be enough if the offense falters themselves.

Why Neal Brown Isn’t Thrilled WVU Defense Leads Nation in Ball-Hawk Rate

One path for a Cincinnati upset is to take advantage of turnovers

West Virginia and Cincinnati are set to kickoff from Morgantown at 2:30 pm ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+. The Mountaineers are a 6.5-point favorite in the game.

Vote in our poll below that asks if WVU and Cincinnati will become a new Big 12 rivalry.

Poll: Will WVU-Cincinnati Become Big 12 Rivalry?

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