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2019 Season

Preview: West Virginia Travels To Kansas As Both Look To Get A Much-Needed Win

The Jayhawks and the Mountaineers face off in Lawrence to avoid the bottom of the Big 12.



Leddie Brown of the West Virginia Mountaineers runs with the ball during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks - Getty Images - Joe Robbins

Both the Kansas Jayhawks and the West Virginia Mountaineers got huge wins last week. Huge not only in importance, but also by margin of victory. Both teams are looking to build some momentum going into the Big 12 schedule.

The winner might be able to make a push for a bowl game. The loser will do everything possible to stay out of the cellar. We’ve dubbed this one “The Battle For the Bottom of the Big 12”.

Will the Jayhawks get an advantage from hosting this one? Will West Virginia find their running game? Will Kansas keep theirs going?

Game Details

  • When: SAT SEP 21 at 3:30 PM CT
  • Where: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS
  • Forecast: Thunderstorms, 80F
  • Stream: ESPN+
  • Betting Line: WVU -4.5, O/U 48.5

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West Virginia Mountaineers

By Christopher Hall

West Virginia looked to be a rejuvenated team in a 44-27 win over North Carolina State last weekend after the 38-7 drubbing they took the previous week to Mizzou. The Mountaineers nearly tripled their rushing attack combined in their first two games with a 173-yard performance against the Wolfpack.

They were able to soften up the defense with quick screens on the outside, jet sweeps and touch passes, then Kennedy McKoy and Leddie Brown ran north and south combining for 101 yards and three touchdowns that breathed life in a stagnant offense.

The biggest key to the Mountaineers running game emergence came upfront from a couple of redshirt freshmen in James Gmiter and Briason Mays along with sophomore John Hughes making their first career starts and head coach Neal Brown said guard Chase Behrndt had his best game.

Austin Kendall and Sam James are continuing to show steady improvement connecting nine times for 153 yards and a touchdown and as a result James was named Big 12 Newcomer of the week.

Kendall has been poised throughout the season and is becoming more decisive as the season grows. He’s been fairly accurate at 64.5% and has made some tough throws but he’s missed on some passes in the screen game and hasn’t found much consistency in his deep ball.

The Mountaineers have seemingly woken up from the beat down in Missouri two weeks ago. However, with it being so early in the season the hope around Morgantown is that Neal Brown has their attention and there will be a steady improvement from here on out.

Keys to the Game for the Mountaineers

Contain The Jayhawk Running Game – With Kansas running a different offense last week, Pooka Williams and Khalil Hubert looked unstoppable combining for 308 yards and two touchdowns. Asking this new schematic WVU defense to stop Kansas might be asking a lot, but if they can force QB Carter Stanley to beat you with his arm, it will be a long day for KU.

Make Stanley Win With His Arm – Stanley has shown he is accurate in the screen game and has made some nice throws downfield, but he’s benefited from Andrew Parchment playmaking ability in space. Corners will have to play up and take away the screens, make Carter throw in tight windows while applying pressure with the D-line.

Creativity In The Run Game – Just like last week, keep the edges honest with jet sweeps tunnel screens and quick screens then hit the with run game in-between the tackles. Remain creative and find ways to move the ball on the ground.

Game Prediction

The West Virginia linebackers have struggled in the running game but and some of that has to do with depth. Mike linebacker Shea Campbell has been getting more reps the last two weeks as he gets back into game shape after falling behind missing most of fall camp, but I’m not sure that will be enough to stop the KU running attack.

Kansas might rack up a big chunk of rushing yards; however, it’s not going to lead to enough points. West Virginia’s defense buckles down in the redzone and keeps Kansas out of the paint.

Austin Kendall continues to find weapons within his offense as Neal Brown has created opportunities for the young freshman and Tevin Bush is coming off suspension, I expect the offense to continue to move the ball and find the endzone.

I expect this one to be close throughout the game but WVU pulls away in the fourth quarter.

Kansas Jayhawks

By Andy Mitts

Now THAT is how you run an offense. The Jayhawks utilized both Pooka Williams and Khalil Herbert to perfection. With lots of misdirection and run pass option plays, they thoroughly confused Boston College last week. Carter Stanley threw an early interception, but he settled in for an extremely efficient game.

The defense was torched in the first half, as AJ Dillon racked up the yards on the ground. However, the Eagles never got the passing game going. As the offense took off in the second half, Boston College had to abandon the run as the Jayhawks clamped down.

Keys To The Game For Kansas

The Defensive Front 7 – The Mountaineers have not been very successful in the run game. They will look to establish it early, especially given the strength in the secondary. If the front seven can shut down the run game, it will force the Mountaineers to turn to the passing game in desperation. That will give the secondary a huge advantage.

Eliminate Mistakes – Carter Stanley has had turnovers in every game so far this year. They’ve been decreasing each week. If the Jayhawks are to win this game, they probably can’t afford to turn it over.

Lean On The Playmakers – Pooka Williams and Khalil Herbert should get plenty of run in this game. Last time the Jayhawks played the Mountaineers at home, Herbert ran for nearly 300 yards.

Game Prediction

The victory over Boston College has breathed new life into the program. With a large crowd of excited Jayhawk fans expected, I think the team will feed off the crowd. Both teams will get some big plays, resulting in a high scoring game. Ultimately, I think the home team pulls out a competitive win.

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