The West Virginia Mountaineers took the field in Morgantown to host the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday in a battle of two former Big East foes. It was their first time meeting as Big 12 members after the Bearcats joined the league back in July.
In this match up, WVU was looking to bounce back after a 39-point loss at Oklahoma, while the Bearcats were coming off their first Big 12 win of the season against Houston last week. As for this game, it was the Mountaineers from start to finish on their way to a 42-21 win.
Here are three thoughts on the game.
WVU’s Ground Attack
The Mountaineers are developing one of the best 1-2 punches in the Big 12 with C.J. Donaldson and Jahiem White. In this game, it was White who led the way with 204 yards on 21 carries, along with one score on the ground. Donaldson had a quiet game (20 rushing yards), but as a team, WVU rolled to 424 yards on the day. This was exactly how Neal Brown wants to play: control the clock, own the ground attack, and get his QB Garrett Greene going with the rush, which he did on Saturday with 154 yards on 11 carries with three scores.
Greene scored the first touchdown of the game with a three-yard scamper to cap off a 14-play, 91-yard drive in the first quarter. WVU led 7-0 heading to the second and then an explosive three-touchdown quarter, including two rushing scores from Greene and one from Donaldson, on drives of 85, 40 and 75 yards.
Cincinnati Can’t Have Any Momentum
Cincinnati was coming off its first Big 12 win against Houston, and despite being only a six-point underdog at WVU, the Bearcats were never in this game.
Cincinnati started off the game with drives of three, five, four and three plays, none of which were longer than 21 yards, and all resulting in punts. Cincinnati had to start controlling the clock early and develop the running game, but they just couldn’t do it.
Emory Jones and Brady Lichtenberg both got reps in the first half, but neither could really get much going on the offensive side of the ball. Lichtenberg led the only touchdown drive of the first half, utilizing his arm and his leg. But those passes were the only of the game for him, finishing just 2/3 for 25 yards. Meantime, Jones went 14/24 for 166 yards and two scores. Jones did rush for 56 yards and one score. The reality is Cincinnati does not have the quarterback play to compete in the Big 12 right now.
Is Neal Brown Now Safe?
Brown is now 7-4 on the season and 5-3 in the Big 12. Any West Virginia fan would’ve signed up for this before the season, but the reality is there is still a portion of WVU fans who are wondering if Brown is the guy. That’s somewhat understandable, as Brown has won the games he was supposed to win, but has struggled in the more competitive games.
But heck, there were still WVU fans showing up to College GameDay at James Madison with signs looking for Jimbo Fisher.
WVU wraps up its season at Baylor next week. The Mountaineers will be big favorites against the Bears and are looking at an 8-4 season. Heck, WVU could be a Hail Mary loss to Houston away from finishing 9-3. There’s no way Brown would lose his job at 9-3, and I don’t see much changing if he finishes 8-4.