The WVU Mountaineers surprisingly fell to Kansas in their home opener last weekend. They now turn their attention to this Saturday’s matchup, when they host the Towson Tigers. Interestingly enough, West Virginia sportsbooks don’t feature any odds for the potentially lopsided tilt just yet.
It seems certain that WVU will have its way with Towson; however, many thought the same a week ago. This was the first time Kansas took down the Mountaineers since November 2013, as the team from Morgantown was victorious in their previous eight matchups.
Although it might not be time to hit the panic button just yet, things aren’t going well for WVU. This season marks the first time since 1979 that it lost its first two contests of the year.
Let’s examine the Mountaineers’ latest defeat to the Jayhawks and preview Saturday’s contest against Towson.
WVU football’s comeback falls short
It seemed like it was a normal game against Kansas as WVU jumped out to a fast start. A long touchdown pass followed up by a solid drive gave the team a 14-0 advantage in the opening quarter.
Kansas recovered, outscoring WVU 35-14 in the second and third quarters. With just under 11 minutes remaining, the Mountaineers trailed by 11 points. They needed two great drives down the stretch to force overtime.
The first traveled 64 yards over 14 plays, resulting in a short Casey Legg field goal. Then, after generating a punt on defense, the offensive unit earned a chance to tie things up with about two minutes left.
Quarterback JT Daniels led WVU on a crucial drive that saw it get into the end zone with just 35 seconds still on the clock. Daniels found wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton again for a successful two-point conversion to tie the score up at 42-42.
After the Jayhawks converted on their opening possession of the overtime, it fell on WVU to draw even again. Unfortunately, for the second consecutive week, a Daniels pass headed for Ford-Wheaton was intercepted and returned for a touchdown to finalize the outcome.
KU’s Cobee Bryant picked off Daniels and took it 86 yards to seal the win for the visitors.
Of course, the disappointing result didn’t end well for WVU backers, either. The team laid around -14 points in the spread, producing an easy win for those on KU.
WVU drops to 1-1 overall against the spread at WV sportsbooks, while the over is now 2-0.
While the Mountaineers managed 42 points on the evening, the majority of it came from the passing attack. Both Tony Mathis Jr. and CJ Donaldson saw plenty of carries, but each averaged just 3.7 yards per touch.
Daniels threw for 365 yards on the day on 70% passing. He tallied three touchdowns before tossing the pick in OT.
Again, Ford-Wheaton looked like his favorite target. The junior wideout caught 11 passes for 152 yards and two more scores this week.
WVU football vs. Towson preview
Ford-Wheaton wasn’t the only WVU receiver with a quality outing. Sam James totaled 91 yards on four receptions, compared to Kaden Prather, who finished with six catches for 79 yards.
This may be obvious from the score, but the Mountaineers’ showing on defense wasn’t nearly as good when facing Kansas. They surrendered more than 400 yards of offense without turning the Jayhawks over once. The unit didn’t record any sacks and posted just three tackles for loss.
There is no question that the defense must improve from this poor performance to achieve its goals this season. Luckily, this should come quite easily against Towson.
Despite the Tigers sitting at 2-0 in the year, WVU should be in a different class than its opponent.
Towson defeated Bucknell and Morgan State by a combined nine points for its two triumphs. It participates in the Colonial Athletic Association, with the likes of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware.
Last September, Towson lost its two matchups to out-of-conference North Dakota State and San Diego State by 28 and 27 points, respectively.
This is likely why WV sportsbooks aren’t offering odds for this tilt yet. The popular options may release a line closer to the start of the contest.
Senior signal caller Tyrrell Pigrome leads the Tigers; however, they certainly lean on the run often. Junior back Devin Matthews paces the group with 166 yards on 37 carries, but it’s Pigrome with the more efficient stats thus far.
The QB is averaging five yards per carrying through the two games, tallying 155 yards on 31 attempts.
Even though WV sportsbooks aren’t providing odds as of now, WVU shouldn’t endure too many problems in this one. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, its chance of winning hovers around 96% in Saturday’s game.
The action gets underway at 1 p.m. ET at Milan Puskar Stadium.