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West Virginia vs. Missouri: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: James Madison at West Virginia

Here is everything you need to know in the upcoming Big 12 game in our West Virginia vs. Missouri preview and prediction.

Game Info

12 p.m. Eastern Time, Saturday September 7th, 2019, Memorial Stadium, Columbia, MO

TV: ESPN2

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Radio:  Mountaineer Sports Network, Tune-in and WVU Game Day apps (Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace, Jed Drenning)

Fun Fact: WVU and Mizzou have split six meetings, but only one of them came in the past 20 years, when West Virginia won 26-11.

Spread (open): Missouri -11

 

Key Players

Missouri

QB Kelly Bryant

Bryant is the former Clemson quarterback who transferred to Columbia and performed pretty well in the season opener against Wyoming: 423 passing yards, 65% completion, two touchdowns and one interception, plus 20 rushing yards. While Mizzou was stunned in its opener by Wyoming, it’s hard to put much of that blame on Bryant. Everything will revolve around Bryant in this offense.

LB Cale Garrett

Garrett is coming off of back-to-back 100-tackle seasons in Columbia and his senior year is off to a roaring start with a team-high 16 tackles against Wyoming on Saturday. He’s a team captain and was a second-team All-SEC pick in 2018.

West Virginia

RB Martell Pettaway

Pettaway had a shockingly-slow start to the season against James Madison, finishing with nine carries for 20 yards. That’s 2.2 yards per carry. Last season, Pettaway averaged over six yards per carry on nearly 100 attempts. His slow start was in tandem with a general sluggish beginning for the WVU offense against JMU. Pettaway needs to get going against a Mizzou defense that gave up nearly 300 rushing yards to Wyoming.

LB Josh Chandler

Who had money on Chandler being the Mountaineers’ leading tackler ahead of the season opener against JMU? Anyone? If so, I’m going to Vegas with you ASAP. Chandler had 14 tackles as a freshman last season and led WVU with 14 tackles on Saturday against JMU. The Mountaineers have been looking for as many bodies as they can find in the front seven and if Chandler can remain that big surprise, Neal Brown will be thrilled.

 

Key Storylines

Missouri

The Tigers were absolutely horrible stopping the run last week against Wyoming, giving up, as was mentioned above, 297 rushing yards in their stunning loss in Week 1. While WVU didn’t exactly light the world on fire with its own running game against James Madison (34 yards on 24 carries), Mizzou can’t be that bad in Week 2. At some point, Martell Pettaway, Kennedy McKoy and Alec Sinkfield, what many expected to be a strength on a rebuilding WVU squad, will get it going. If that begins in Columbia, it will be a long day for the Tigers.

West Virginia

Both offensive and defensive lines, which were projected to be strengths of the team, need to play better. WVU was pushed around for much of the game by James Madison, and if that happens against an FCS team, albeit the national title favorites, what will happen against a solid SEC program? The offensive line, led by Colton McKivitz and Josh Sills, needs to create holes for its running backs. Then, the defensive line, which to be fair did perform better than the offensive line, needs to remain disruptive, led by the Sills brothers (Dante and Darius) who had a combined nine tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss. They need to keep Kelly Bryant in the pocket and not let him get too comfortable.

Prediction

Missouri 31, West Virginia 21

Missouri lost three defensive starters in preseason camp to injuries and it showed in Week 1. The Tigers are home and I expect a lot of that to be cleaned up by Saturday. Despite their win, WVU struggled for much of the game on both sides of the ball against James Madison. Now, this young, rebuilding group goes on the road to face an SEC opponent that is embarrassed and angry with how their season started. WVU is going to have a tough time slowing down Preseason All-SEC tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. Plus, when you combine WVU’s offensive line performance last week with Missouri’s stout defensive line, led by Jordan Elliott and Akial Byers, it could potentially turn into a big day for that Mizzou unit.

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