Big 12 Previews

West Virginia vs. Penn State: Preview, Prediction, and Game Odds

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Baylor

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the matchup between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Penn State Nittany Lions.


Saturday, September 2; 6:30 p.m. CT; Beaver Stadium; University Park, Pennsylvania


Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network (Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace, Jed Drenning)

2022 Records: West Virginia 5-7 (3-6 Big 12); Penn State 11-2 (7-2 Big Ten)

Rankings: West Virginia NR; Penn State No. 7 (AP)

Series History: Penn State leads series, 48-9-2

Last Meeting: Penn State 40, West Virginia 26 (1992)

Spread: Penn State (-20.5)

Fun Fact: These two teams played every year from 1947 to 1992, but haven’t played since then. Penn State won the final meeting 40-26, before leaving for the Big Ten in 1993.





There’s no question about it, West Virginia’s strength in 2023 is going to be running the football. In 2022, CJ Donaldson burst onto the scene as a freshman, racking up 526 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for over 100 yards in four of his first seven games before going down with a season-ending injury. As the favorite to lead the Mountaineers backfield in 2023, Donaldson should see a heavy dose in this game as WVU will hope to lean on one of the best offensive lines in the Big 12.


As a returning starter at middle linebacker and West Virginia’s leading tackler (92) a season ago, Lee Kpogba will serve as the heart and soul of the Mountaineers’s defense. With guys like Dante Stills and Jordan Jefferson gone from what was a solid defensive line a season ago, Kpogba will be the veteran who helps everyone get lined up and on track. Where he goes, this defense will go, and with a lot of newcomers in the two-deep, he’ll have a lot of pressure on his shoulders.




Sean Clifford is gone after serving as Penn State’s starting quarterback for four seasons, but folks in University Park are excited about what Drew Allar will look like under center. After looking sharp as a freshman, Allar enters 2023 as one of the most important players in the Big Ten, with Penn State looking to compete for a conference title. If Allar is going to be the difference-maker that the Nittany Lions need him to be to reach their goals, it’ll likely start with a big night against West Virginia.


After a standout sophomore year that garnered All-American selections from several outlets, Kalen King returns as the centerpiece of what should be yet another strong defensive backfield for Penn State. With Joey Porter and Ji’Ayir Brown gone from a season ago, King will step into more of a leadership role and will be vitally important for the Nittany Lions’ defense, which should rank among the best in the nation in 2023.




Can the Mountaineers buck the trend and pull off a major upset on the road in Week 1? Penn State will enter the game somewhere near a three-touchdown favorite, which means this isn’t even on the radar for upsets to watch among the public. However, Neal Brown’s team has heard about their chances in 2023 all offseason, and there’s nothing like some good, old-fashioned bulletin board material to get the season started right. If the Mountaineers can pull off the improbable, it could jumpstart a renaissance season for Neal Brown’s squad.


Is Penn State a real College Football Playoff contender? Along with Florida State and Texas, Penn State has become a trendy pick to make the College Football Playoff in 2023. Coming off an 11-2 year, and with 16 returning starters, there’s reason to believe that they are deserving of that kind of praise. However, they’ll need to prove it on the field, and their first chance to do some comes against West Virginia. Perception is everything, and sharing a division with Michigan and Ohio State leaves them with little room for error. Penn State needs to be dominant in this game.

PREDICTION: Penn State 38, West Virginia 20

As much as I’d like to pick West Virginia to pull off a top-10 upset and send college football spiraling into a 2007-esque chaos tornado, I just can’t see it happening. Penn State’s offense might be as good as it has been under James Franklin and West Virginia will experience some growing pains along the defensive front after its losses along the D-line. Penn State wins this game comfortably, but West Virginia covers by keeping it under three touchdowns.

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