It appeared it was only a matter of time before positive COVID-19 cases affected a WVU football game.
With the coronavirus spiking around the country, many college football programs have been forced to cancel several contests.
Thankfully, the Mountaineers are only slightly impacted by the spread of positive cases at Oklahoma.
Last week’s game was postponed and rescheduled for Dec. 12. The Mountaineers continue their normal schedule this week when they head to No. 9 Iowa State on Saturday to take on the Cyclones.
WVU Football vs. Iowa State Preview
WVU comes into this week’s game after not playing since Nov. 14, when it beat TCU by 18 points.
The question is, will Neal Brown’s team be well-rested, or rusty?
Typically, a bye week this far into the season is helpful for many reasons. However, too much time off could easily leave the Mountaineers a little bit off their game going into an important matchup.
This week they battle Iowa State, which has its eye on securing a spot in the Big 12 Championship for the first time. With a victory over WVU, the Cyclones will move to 8-1 in the conference and likely face Oklahoma or Oklahoma State in the title game.
Iowa State last played on the Friday following Thanksgiving. It took down No. 17 Texas 23-20 thanks to a fourth-quarter comeback.
After losing to Oklahoma State by three in late October, the Cyclones reeled off four consecutive wins. They feature a balanced attack that averages more than 33 points per game in 2020.
The offense is led by quarterback Brock Purdy. The dual-threat QB completed over 69% of his passes against the Longhorns, throwing for 312 yards and a touchdown.
When he’s not running, Purdy hands it to lead running back Breece Hall. Hall, a sophomore, has rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and 16 scores, while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Purdy has several viable targets in the passing game, as well.
Junior wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson leads the Cyclones in catches and yards, with 42 receptions for 523 yards.
Tight end Charlie Kolar is also someone to watch out for. He caught six passes against Texas for 131 yards.
Defensively, junior linebacker Mike Rose stands out among the others. He’s the Cyclones’ top tackler with 76, including 43 of the solo variety. No other player has more than 32.
While Rose will look to slow down Leddie Brown and the Mountaineers’ rushing attack, quarterback Jarret Doege needs to be conscious of Iowa State’s pass rush.
Both Will McDonald IV and JaQuan Bailey have over six sacks on the season for the Cyclones.
College Football Betting Odds At WV Sportsbooks
There’s no question that this is one of the more difficult games on WVU’s schedule. Iowa State’s proven it is capable of competing with the top programs, and it seems like this could be its year.
That said, the Mountaineers are definitely talented enough to pull off the upset this week.
In their last matchup with TCU, Doege was extremely efficient and Brown had plenty of success running the ball. If they can continue to pound away with the ground game and limit their mistakes, the Mountaineers can give the Cyclones a run for their money.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, WVU has a 35% chance of winning this one.
OU Game Postponed
Following this weekend’s game, the Mountaineers will now conclude their year against Oklahoma in Morgantown. Although the game is set for Dec. 12, there is not a start time, yet.
This is also Oklahoma’s first game affected by the coronavirus.
With things moved around, the Sooners now face Baylor this Saturday, if everything goes according to plan. There is still a possibility that OU is unable to play this upcoming game, too.
According to The Oklahoman, OU head coach Lincoln Riley wasn’t too sure if this game would happen at the beginning of the week. On Monday, he said:
“We got a shot. We’ll see. I don’t know that I’m optimistic or pessimistic or anything. It’s just kind of what you do right now. You get through the week and see how it goes.”
Since there hasn’t been any other negative news so far this week, it appears that the Sooners’ game should go on. Hopefully, that’s the case so that the Mountaineers can wrap up their regular season next weekend.
In additional news around WVU, there are a few rumblings in college football that coach Brown could be the target of other schools.
It was reported that ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg told a Charlotte radio station that Brown has been mentioned for the South Carolina job.
The Gamecocks recently fired Will Muschamp after five seasons.
It is wise to note that there aren’t any current rumors coming from Brown’s corner. However, when an SEC team has an interest, people tend to pay attention.
While South Carolina might not even be a better football program at this moment, it’s certainly in a more powerful football conference.
A potential move would make sense from a football standpoint, but not from a financial one, for Brown. If he left for a different job prior to Dec. 31, he would owe WVU $4 million. This figure drops just slightly to $3.5 million after the New Year.
Even though it seems like Brown probably wouldn’t bolt town just yet, it’s possible he earns an early extension from the Mountaineers. Despite owning just a 10-10 record, it’s clear he’s making the program better and others are taking notice.