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West Virginia Takes on Youngstown State in Home Opener



West Virginia
Youngstown State
Kick-off: 6:00 PM Est.
TV: AT&T Sportsnet
Location: Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, WV



The West Virginia Mountaineers (1-0) host, FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) opponent, the Youngstown State Penguins (0-1) in their home opener Saturday evening (6:00 pm) at Mountaineer Field.

West Virginia head Coach Dana Holgorsen is currently 7-0 in home openers since taking over in Morgantown and is 7-0 against FCS schools.

The Mountaineers are 2-0 all-time versus Youngstown State. The Mountaineers won the first meeting 27-7 in 1938 and met again in 2016 at Mountaineer Field winning 38-17.

Youngstown State gave West Virginia all they could handle in the last meeting. The Mountaineers went up 7-0 in the first quarter, but the Penguins scored 14 unanswered points taking a seven-point lead, before West Virginia tied it up late in the first half.

West Virginia outscored Youngstown State 24-7 in the second half and went on to win 38-21.

Quarterback Skyler Howard threw for 389 yards and five touchdowns, while wide receiver Shelton Gibson hauled in 6 passed for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

Last week the Penguins dropped their home opener to the Butler Bulldogs 23-21 in their first home opening loss since 1995. YSU was leading 21-7 heading into the fourth quarter before Butler came back and got within one 21-20 with 1:20 left in the game. The Bulldogs opted to go for the two point conversion to take the one point lead, but came up short.

On the ensuing kickoff, Butler recovered the onside kick and drove the ball down to the 26-yard line for a final game winning field goal as time expired.

Senior Penguin quarterback Montgomery VanGorder (6’2” 220-lbs) went 18-27, 234 yards and threw three touchdowns in the loss. Receivers Samuel St. Surin (5’11” 185-lbs) and Kendric Mallory (6’2” 205-lbs) combined for 9 receptions, 163 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Tevin McCaster (5’10” 195-lbs) ran for 166 yards on 29 carries.

The Mountaineers are coming off a beatdown over the Tennessee Volunteers 40-14, in a neutral site game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mountaineer quarterback Will Grier kicked off his Heisman Campaign throwing for 429 yards and five touchdowns. 2017 Biletnikoff finalist David Sills had seven receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns and receiver Gary Jennings caught six passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini is in his fourth season as head coach of the Penguins and is known as one of the great defensive minds in college football. Although I do suspect his defense to slow down the Mountaineer offense at times, they are over matched when it comes Will Grier and his high-flying offense.

The West Virginia defense came out last week with a chip on their shoulder holding the Tennessee offense to 301 yards of total offense. Defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow immediately became a fan favorite when he busted through the line on the first play of the game with a sack, forcing a fumble.

Linebacker David Long picked up where he left off last season with nine tackles and newly positioned Dravon Askew-Henry had eight tackles.

The Penguins will try to establish a running game and control the clock to slow down the Mountaineers. They’ll try to get a push up front with an offensive line that averages 302-lbs among the starters.

I expect this veteran Mountaineer team to come out focused and handle their business versus the Penguins.

During Pelini’s time at YSU, he’s given up an average of 37 points against FBS (Football Bowl Subdivison), including the 2016 game against WVU.

This is no average West Virginia team and despite Youngstown State not giving up 60 plus points since 1969, I’m taking the Mountaineers to win 62-7.

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