Here is everything you need to know in our West Virginia vs. Army Liberty Bowl Preview.
Thursday, December 31st, 2020, 3:00 CST; Liberty Bowl Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
TV: ESPN (Wes Durham)
Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network by IMG Sports (Tony Caridi); Army Sports Network (Rich DeMarco)
Spread: West Virginia -7
Fun Fact: This is just the fourth meeting between the two programs and Army holds a 2-1 series lead.
West Virginia Mountaineers
QB Jarret Doege
Doege has been mediocre for most of the season and now he has to face what is, by the numbers, the best pass defense in the country as Army is allowing less than 150 passing yards per game. Doege has been able to move the ball, with 270 passing yards per game ranking second in the Big 12, but in the red zone he hasn’t always got it done, with only 13 passing touchdowns, ranking in the bottom half of the conference. His abilities will be put to the test in this game.
DL’s Darius and Dante Stills
This is the last time that the two brothers from just down the road from Morgantown will line up on the field together as Darius Stills is taking his talents to the NFL. These two have been a great 1-2 punch for the Mountaineers and helped WVU’s defense be one of the best in the Big 12 this season. The two combined for 16 tackles for loss on the year, while Darius added 3.5 sacks.
QB Tyler Tyhier
West Point sophomore Tyhier Tyler has gone from the scout team to the projected starter in the last few weeks of the season. In just six games played he is the team’s leading rusher with 502 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He started against Georgia Southern late last month and had 121 rushing yards, which he followed up with 96 yards and a score against Navy.
LB Ark Smith
Smith is second on the team with 71 tackles and is tied for the team lead with 9.0 tackles for loss on the season. He also has 3.5 sacks and one interception. Smith is a multi-year starter on this defense and he’s improved as the season has progressed with 4.5 tackles for loss in the last three games of the season.
Stop the triple option. It sounds so simple, right? Just ask the Oklahoma Sooners, who almost lost to Army at home during the 2018 season. It’s never easy to take on an offense you never see. It’s even harder when it’s a bowl game and not an early season non-conference match up when players might take the foot off the pedal a bit. West Virginia’s defense did rank third in the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed with only 126.2 yards per game allowed, giving up just 3.6 yards per rush. Something has to give on Thursday afternoon and the Mountaineers are hoping its them bottling up the Army rushing attack.
Get to Jarret Doege early and often. WVU was in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 in protecting the QB and now Doege will have to go up against a passing defense that ranks No. 1 in passing yards allowed (149.9), No. 2 in scoring defense avg. (14.0), No. 2 in red zone defense percentage (0.615), No. 6 in defensive TDs and 9th with 13 interceptions. If Doege is off his game early and the Mountaineers can’t get the running game going, it will be a long afternoon in Memphis for West Virginia.
West Virginia 24, Army 21
This is a really tough spot for West Virginia going from playing an SEC team to a military academy that everyone respects, is hard to “hate” like an SEC team, and runs an offense no one ever sees. That being said, I believe the Mountaineers are fired up to play in this game and want to end the season on a high note, and they’re just more talented, so I’ll take them in a low-scoring affair.
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