Here is everything you need to know ahead of the matchup between the BYU Cougars and the West. Virginia Mountaineers.
Saturday, Nov. 4; 6:00 p.m. CT; Milan Puskar Stadium; Morgantown, WV
Radio: BYU Radio (Greg Wrubell, Hans Olsen, Mitchell Juergens); Mountaineer Sports Network (Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace, Jed Drenning)
Records: BYU 5-3 (2-3); West Virginia 5-3 (3-2)
Rankings: Both teams unranked
Series History: West Virginia leads, 1-0-0
Last Meeting: West Virginia 35, BYU 32 (2016)
Line: West Virginia (-12.0)
Fun Fact: Despite West Virginia football being around since 1891 and BYU football being established in 1922, this is just the second all-time meeting between these two, with the first meeting coming just seven seasons ago.
QB Jake Retzlaff
With a virtually nonexistent rushing attack, BYU’s offense has been solely dependent on Kedon Slovis having an effective and efficient game. Now, Jake Retzlaff will have to step in as Slovis will miss this game due to injury. Against West Virginia’s defense, which allows 230 yards passing per game and 148 yards rushing per game, Retzlaff will have his work cut out for him, especially in his first start on the road.
LB Max Tooley
Facing a Mountaineers rushing attack that features both Garrett Greene and CJ Donaldson, BYU linebacker Max Tooley will be extremely busy on Saturday. Tooley leads the Cougars with 55 tackles on the year and has also added a sack one past breakup and one interception. He will need to be extremely active and the run fits and also ensure that Garrett Greene doesn’t get too much going in the run game.
West Virginia Mountaineers
QB Garrett Greene
Last week against UCF Garrett Greene led West Virginia with three rushing touchdowns as the Mountaineers totaled five scores on the ground in a 41-28 win over the Knights. This week they’ll face a little stiffer rush defense in BYU but should still be able to find success on the ground. If West Virginia can control the clock and Greene can be efficient as a rusher and a passer, the team has to feel good about its chances of picking up a win.
LB Lee Kpogba
Lee Kpogba continues to be a leader for this Mountaineers’ defense and led the team with eight tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss against UCF last week. This week Kpogba will be responsible for making sure that the BYU running game doesn’t figure things out on top of also making life hard on Kedon Slovis. If there’s one player on the WVU defense that sticks out as a difference-maker from week to week, it’s Kpogba.
Can the Cougars figure things out on the road? To this point in the year BYU is 0–3 on the road in Big 12 play and its closest loss in that stretch was an 11-point defeat at the hands of Kansas back in September. West Virginia represents the longest road trip that BYU will take all season long and crossing several time zones will not be easy to overcome. Picking up a win and big 12 play is never easy, but traveling literally across the country to do so is going to be very tricky.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Can West Virginia find its defense again? The Mountaineers have given up 41, 48, and 28 in their last three games and have gone 1-2 in that stretch. With home-field advantage, and BYU struggling on the road to this point this feels like something of a get-right game, but that’s exactly what Kalani Sitake and the Cougars want. Playing disciplined defense will be key to winning this game, and being physical will be important as well as physicality travels, and BYU has plenty of that historically.
PREDICTION: West Virginia 38, BYU 24
I’m not going to overthink this one. The Big 12 newcomers have struggled to this point in the year and even BYU, who sits at 5–3, has looked subpar against teams in the top half of the conference. West Virginia is fighting for not only bowl eligibility, but for its head coach’s job, and every win, they can collect will be another feather in his cap for the 2023 season. Give me West Virginia to win and cover in a relatively dominant performance in front of a very excited crowd.