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BYU vs WVU Preview, Predictions


Striped LaVell Edwards Stadium
Photo Credit: McCord Mecham

Game Info:


Date: Saturday, November 4th; 7:00 p.m. EST;


Place: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, West Virginia


TV: FOX


Radio: BYU Radio (Greg Wrubell, Hans Olsen, Mitchell Juergens); Mountaineer Sports Network (Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace, Jed Drenning)


Records: BYU 5-3 (2-3); WVU 5-3 (3-2)


Series History; WVU leads, 1-0-0


Last Meeting: WVU 35, BYU 32 (2016)


Line: WVU (-10.5)


Preview:


BYU is 'staring down the longest' road trip that any of the current BIG 12 teams will take this year. 1,914 miles by car. Crossing two different time zones. And if that wasn't enough, it was just announced that this game has been upgraded to networks and will now air on FOX instead of FS1.



The first and only time these two teams met was 7 short years ago in Morgantown for a dogfight that ended with the Mountaineers as the victors, 35-32 and I could honestly see this game potentially being very similar.


BYU coming off a beating vs Texas in Austin is looking to get back on track. BYU with only 3 losses this year hasn't lost back-to-back games since the dreadful October last season that saw BYU lose to Notre Dame, Arkansas, Liberty, and ECU before correcting ship and ending the season strong with a 4 game win streak. This season BYU's struggles have come offensively, averaging only 219.4 passing yards per game and 81.3 rushing yards per game. We have seen sparks of life in each of those aspects throughout the season though with a good rushing performance coming against Texas Tech where we saw BYU put up 150 yards on the ground, and throwing for an impressive 357 yards against Kansas. We know BYU can do it, and with the defense they have, I pity the team that BYU finally figures out their total package offense against.


West Virginia is coming off a high-octane win over UCF, 41-28. Quarterback, Garrett Greene ran for three rushing touchdowns, and their defense forced four turnovers, slowing down the high-powered offense of the Golden Knights. The Mountaineers have an impressive running game with the dynamic duo of Greene and Donaldson. They are averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground. BYU has done well against rushing teams so far this year though.



WVU's defense seems to be their pain point as of late. WVU has given up 41, 48, and 28 points in their last three games, and in the 28-point game against UCF, WVU had four turnovers and still gave up 28 points. If BYU is going to put together a complete offensive game I think this can be the game to do it and I think they will need, to win.


Key Players - BYU


DE Tyler Batty


BYU's defense runs through Batty. When Batty has 5 or more tackles, BYU wins. When Batty has a sack, BYU wins. BYU needs Batty clogging up running lanes, getting to Greene but keeping him in the pocket, and a bag or two would be nice.




WR - Parker Kingston*


With Slovis out this game, Kingston is going to need to help Retzlaff out as much as he can and get open in the secondary quickly. I'm sure OC Aaron Roderick will start Retslaff out easy and give him some timing routes to get him into the grove of things. If Kingston can be a regular target for Retslaff on quick outs, slants, and screens then it will help the first-time starting QB out tremendously.


Key Players - WVU


QB Garrett Greene


Greene was impressive last week with 3 rushing touchdowns against UCF. This is definitely a QB that you want to try to contain in the pocket. Greene only has a 53% completion rating on the season but he is careful with the ball, only giving up 2 interceptions this year. Look for WVU to give him some rollout plays to get him out of the pocket and possibly open up some running lanes for him.


LB Lee Kpogba


Lee, much like Batty for BYU, is the leader on the defense. He had a strong performance last week with eight tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss against UCF. When Lee plays well, WVU wins. Look for him to try to cause as much havoc as he can for Slovis by blocking passing lanes and getting pressure on blitzes.



Prediction:


I really think, with some of the sparks of life we have seen from BYU's offense against Texas Tech as well as a few times against Texas last week, that BYU can put together a much better offensive performance against this WVU defense. I know BYU's defense will do their job, get a takeaway or two, so as long as the offense shows up finally then I think BYU takes their first road BIG 12 win in Morgantown, 35-24.


Go Cougs!


QB Kedon Slovis*


Slovis is going to need to protect the ball. This is key for any football game but especially for BYU this season. BYU is 8th in the country at turnover ratio and it has definitely helped them in their wins. BYU is almost certain to have a couple of takeaways each game so as long as they protect the ball when on offense, it should give them a great chance to win.


*Editor's Note: Author McCord Mecham originally picked Slovis as a key player, but found out he was being held out of this weekend's game and adjusted accordingly.


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