Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in our West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech preview and prediction.
Saturday, September 18th, 2021, 12:00 p.m. EST; Morgantown, WV; Milan Puskar Stadium
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network by Learfield
Spread: West Virginia -2.5
Fun Fact: West Virginia leads the all-time series over Virginia Tech 28-23-1 and the Mountaineers are 16-9 in Morgantown.
West Virginia Mountainners
RB Leddie Brown
Brown is the engine of the WVU offense. They need him to get going early to try and ease the pressure on the passing game. Brown has rushed for 104 yards this season with two touchdowns in each of his first two games against Maryland and LIU. However he also had a crucial fumble against Maryland in the season opener that hurt WVU’s prospects of pulling off a win. Still, he’s No. 2 nationally in touchdowns (5, one receiving) through two games, proving how crucial he is to make this offense work.
DL Akeem Mesidor
After being named a freshman All-American in 2020, Mesidor has picked up right where he left off in 2020. He has 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack through two games, which means is No. 4 in the Big 12 in tackles for loss (1.2) so far this season. While more of the focus will remain on Dante Stills, understandably so, offensive lines can’t sleep on Mesidor, who has proven dating back to the 2020 season that he will make defenses pay for their mistakes.
Virginia Tech Hokies
QB Braxton Burmeister
Burmeister is a dual-threat QB who was spotty most of last season, but his ability was evident against Clemson and Virginia at the end of the year, when he completed 73.5 percent of his passes and averaged nearly 10 yards per attempt. This season, he’s thrown for 311 yards through two games, completing 61% of his passes with two touchdowns to one interception. He’s also leading the team in rushing yards with 116 on the season.
DB Chamarri Conner
Conner has played the nickel back spot very effectively early in the season, racking up 12 tackles, tied for third on the team, and then 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, plus a forced fumble and interception. He was an ACC Honorable Mention selection in 2020, while being named the ACC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 1 earlier this month. Last season, he led Virginia Tech with 81 tackles and he seems to be picking up right where he left off.
The Mountaineers need to win the turnover battle in this game and avoid big mistakes. They’re at home, which should help, but two weeks ago against Maryland they lost the turnover battle 4-0 and that cost them the game. Virginia Tech upset UNC in Week 1 doing just that, picking off UNC QB and NFL prospect Sam Howell three times. The Hokies were outgained in the game, but they won the turnover battle 3-2. For Jarret Doege and the WVU offense, protect the ball, and try to let your defense help you to a victory.
The Hokies need to win this one on the ground. That’s when they’re at their best. Tech owns a 12-2 mark under Fuente when rushing for 250+ yards, including a 5-1 record in 2020. However, WVU has never given up at least 250 rushing yards under Neal Brown. But the Hokies have averaged 201.0 rushing ypg during their three-game winning streak. If they want to win on the road in a tough environment against a rival, win the game on the ground, which is what Justin Fuente wants to do anyway.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, West Virginia 21
I need to see more from Jarret Doege in leading this team before I believe they can win against a solid Virginia Tech team. The WVU defense is very good, but it’s not last year’s defense. And for Virginia Tech, they’ll try to lock down Leddie Brown and force Doege to beat them through the air. This will be a game both teams try to win on the ground and Tech will edge out the victory.