Here is everything you need to know about the Kansas Jayhawks home game against the West Virginia Mountaineers with our preview and prediction.
Date: Saturday, September 23rd | 12 p.m. ET | Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas
TV: ESPNU (Mike Couzens (Play-by-play), John Congemi (Analyst))
Radio: Sirius Ch. 108; XM Ch. 199 (KU PxP: Brian Hanni, WVU PxP: Tony Caridi)
Fun fact: The Mountaineers are 19-5 in September under Holgorsen, but just 4-3 on the road in September. Meantime, after just three games at Kansas, junior quarterback Peyton Bender has recorded 1,030 yards passing. Bender is the fastest Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career passing yards in the 127-year history of the program.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Kyzir White, defensive back
White is second on the team with 18 tackles and already has two interceptions to his name, along with one pass break up. As a senior in the secondary, his leadership will be necessary against a team that wants to sling it around.
Will Grier, quarterback
Grier is off to a red-hot start with 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Now he enters league play and will look to ramp it up against a Kansas defense that has struggled mightily through three games.
Dorance Armstrong Jr., defensive end
Armstrong was voted the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year, but so far he has looked far from it. Armstrong recorded 10 sacks last season but has none through three games against lesser competition.
Mike Lee, safety
Lee was expected to take a big leap to his sophomore season, but so far the breakdowns in the secondary have been all over the place for KU. He’s played well individually with 21 tackles and an interception, but Lee needs to help try and get this unit to gel.
Will Grier vs. Kansas defense
The Jayhawks have allowed nearly 1,100 yards to their last two opponents: a pair of MAC teams. Yikes! Now coming to town is Will Grier, who has continued to look sharper in every game as he knocks the rust off following his transfer from Florida. Kansas’ secondary led by Mike Lee and Bryce Torneden have to figure out how to slow down Grier’s passing attack.
Peyton Bender going off
We know new KU offensive coordinator Doug Mecham wants to pass the ball as much as possible. WVU’s secondary has been sporadic at times. But Bender simply needs to be better. He’s completing under 60% of his passes so far, which can’t happen in the Air Raid. If KU wants any chance at pulling off the upset, they have to take advantage of a WVU secondary that has been sporadic at times and gave up over 300 passing yards to East Carolina. Plus, in Week 1 WVU allowed Josh Jackson to throw for over 230 yards and rush for more than 100. One week later against Delaware he threw for 22 and rushed for 20. There are holes in the Mountaineers defense.
Anytime a team wants to pull off a three-score upset, special teams can go a long way to making that happen. West Virginia ranks 12th in the nation in kickoff return and KU’s kickoff defense is in the top 5 in the country. Will something give in KU’s favor?
West Virginia Mountaineers 45, Kansas Jayhawks 24
The Mountaineers just have too much firepower at quarterback with Grier tossing the ball to a plethora of talent including Gary Jennings, David Sills and Ka’Raun White. Then, there is the running game behind Justin Crawford that they will overwhelm a Kansas team that has been unable to stop anybody so far this season. If you’re still holding out some hope that the Jayhawks are close to turning the corner, you will need to hang tight until 2018.