The WVU Mountaineers were exceeding expectations to start the 2020 season. Unfortunately, their bid to begin 4-1 was cut short last Saturday, when they dropped their second game of the year with a loss to Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders’ Zech McPhearson returned a Sam James fumble 56 yards for a touchdown to give his team a fourth-quarter lead. The recovery return was the only score of the final quarter.
WVU’s offense had two more possessions before the clock expired, but was unable to get into the end zone.
Texas Tech won by a final score of 34-27.
The defeat was a tough one for the Mountaineers, which were favored at West Virginia sportsbooks heading into this matchup. WVU was laying around -2.5 points in the spread.
It’s also a concerning loss considering the Mountaineers’ remaining schedule. Their last five games in the Big 12 Conference figure to be much more difficult than their first few.
Texas Tech did a great job of containing WVU’s rushing attack. Even though the Mountaineers ran the ball nearly 30 times, they didn’t eclipse the century mark on the ground.
Both Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield struggled to get going. While Brown did score two touchdowns, he was held to just 77 rushing yards on 21 carries.
Sinkfield couldn’t find much daylight either, totaling only 11 yards.
Coach Neal Brown and his squad must recover quickly now, as No. 16 Kansas State comes to Morgantown this week. The Wildcats are 4-1 overall, with all four victories coming in conference play.
Surprisingly, the Mountaineers are favored once again at online sports betting apps in the Mountain State. Despite KSU’s impressive record, the home side is giving about a field goal again this Saturday.
Let’s take a closer look at WVU’s narrow loss to Texas Tech and preview this weekend’s matchup with the Wildcats.
Mountaineers fall to 3-2
Although losing is never easy, last week’s game was hard-fought and very evenly played. In fact, when you look at the statistics, you can probably make the case that WVU played a better game.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate to wins in college football.
The Mountaineers had more total yards and first downs, and won the time of possession. It wasn’t enough, however.
Close games typically come down to turnovers and big plays. With WVU going in for a potential go-ahead score, James’ fumble was the difference.
The Mountaineers were just outside of Tech’s 40-yard line when their bubble screen to James didn’t go as planned. WVU’s receiver caught the ball cleanly, but had it stripped out as he was spun to the ground.
As soon as Texas Tech’s McPhearson grabbed the loose fumble, he had a clear path for the score.
After scoring 27 points through three quarters, WVU couldn’t produce anything in the fourth.
Its drive following the turnover got a couple of first downs, but then stalled around the 50.
Quarterback Jarret Doege and the offense got one last opportunity with just under a minute remaining. The unit reached as far as Tech’s 38-yard line. Doege’s last pass fell incomplete, however, as time expired.
The junior QB passed for a season high for yardage with 347, but it took 50 attempts to reach that mark. Doege has now thrown for at least 300 yards in two straight weeks.
While he wasn’t as efficient as some of his earlier games, Doege distributed the ball quite well. Ten Mountaineers came away with a reception in this one.
Sophomore Winston Wright Jr. stood out with an amazing effort. He caught nine passes for 126 yards, including one for 38 yards during WVU’s touchdown drive in the third.
WVU vs. KSU preview
Things won’t get any easier for the Mountaineers this week. Playing at home should help matters, but Kansas State is coming into this contest feeling confident.
Since losing a shocker to Arkansas State in the opener, the Wildcats have found their stride. They’ve won four consecutive Big 12 games and are the only team in the conference with four wins.
Oklahoma State is also undefeated in conference play, but it has only three wins.
KSU’s most remarkable triumph came over then-No. 3 Oklahoma in the second week of the season. The Wildcats went into Norman as four-touchdown underdogs and came out with a 38-35 upset that shook the Big 12.
Although every team seems to have a stellar showing against Kansas, KSU also has victories over TCU and Texas Tech.
It beat the Red Raiders 31-21 at home in the third game of the year.
In spite of losing starting quarterback Skylar Thompson to injury, KSU hasn’t missed a beat with Will Howard under center.
The freshman is completing just under 60% of his passes, and has more than 550 yards passing, along with three touchdowns in a couple of games.
That being said, the Wildcats will probably look to run the ball as often as possible.
Explosive freshman Deuce Vaughn is their leading rusher with over 300 yards and four scores. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry through five games.
Howard is also a threat to run the football. The quarterback is the team’s third-leading rusher with 116 yards on 25 attempts.
Defensively, senior linebacker Elijah Sullivan is the leader in the middle of everything. He has more total and solo tackles than any other Wildcat player.
ESPN’s Football Power Index doesn’t agree with sportsbooks this weekend. It actually gives KSU the slight edge, with a 52% chance to win this matchup.
WVU football betting odds
Residents in WV can now wager on college football in a variety of ways. With the launch of two more online sportsbooks recently, the state now features five mobile platforms:
Although odds don’t typically differ by a lot, WV bettors can utilize multiple online sportsbooks to find the best lines for games they like.