The West Virginia Mountaineers hosted the BYU Cougars on Saturday night in Morgantown with both teams trending in different directions. WVU was fresh off a solid win at UCF last week, which snapped a two-game slide. Meantime, BYU was blasted at Texas last week 35-6 and now was starring down the longest road trip in the Big 12.
And this one was over relatively early, as the Mountaineers were able to take care of the Cougars 37-7 in a game that was never close. Here are three thoughts on the game.
Run Baby, Run
The Mountaineers did most of their damage on the ground early on to put this game in the bag in the first half. WVU came in averaging 203 rushing yards per game and they 204 in the first half alone, as Jaheim White led the way with 11 carries for 105 yards in the opening 30 minutes. CJ Donaldson also had two touchdowns in the first quarter as WVU jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back.
BYU entered the game only allowing six rushing touchdowns, but they gave up the aforementioned two to Donaldson on Saturday night in the first quarter as the Mountaineers rolled to 336 rushing yards on 48 attempts, good for 7.0 yards per carry. White, a freshman, finished with career-best 146 rushing yards and Donaldson added 102. These two have made a lethal 1-2 punch the last couple of weeks, as they’ve combined for 554 rushing yards the last two games.
BYU Didn’t Get Off the Plane
BYU was outgained in the first half 352 to 161. They also racked up eight penalties for 78 yards in the opening 30 minutes. The Cougars didn’t have Kedon Slovis at quarterback in this game, who was reportedly dealing with lingering injuries. And not that the offense was great under Slovis, but it was struggling even more than usual. BYU came in averaging 2.9 yards per carry and 81 rushing yards per game, and the Cougars only mustered 24 rushing yards on 2.2 yards per carry in the first half. For the game, BYU finished with 21 carries for 67 rushing yards, while quarterback Jake Retzlaff was 24/42 for 210 yards. The Cougars offense came in the worst in the Big 12 in total yards (300.6), and that number only worsened after Saturday’s performance (277 total yards).
Bowl Eligible WVU
West Virginia head coach Neal Brown entered the season with the hottest seat in the Big 12 Conference. But now, he’s bowl eligible the first week of November and with three weeks to go, WVU is 6-3 (4-2 in Big 12 play) and one game back of first place in the Big 12 Conference. That’s far more than most WVU fans expected before the season began.
The Mountaineers have games left against Oklahoma, Cincinnati and Baylor. The latter two are arguably the worst two teams in the Big 12 Conference this season. So at worst, the Mountaineers are likely looking at 8-4. This is vastly improved by Neal Brown’s standards and is more than enough to save his job into 2024.
It’s been quite the turnaround for the Mountaineers and kudos to Brown, his staff, and his players for getting to a bowl game. And now, they get an Oklahoma team that has lost two games in a row next week in Norman. Meantime, BYU hosts Iowa State next Saturday.