The WVU Mountaineers endured a difficult loss on the road to open the season last week at Pittsburgh. Luckily, West Virginia sportsbooks show them as nearly two-touchdown favorites in their next game against Kansas this Saturday.
The home opener should, hopefully, change the moods of the WVU faithful after a tough way to start the year. WVU fell to their old rival in Pitt after not participating in the Backyard Brawl since 2011.
The contest featured several ties and lead changes, but it seemed the Mountaineers had gained control of it. They scored a go-ahead touchdown with about 10 minutes remaining to hold a 31-24 lead.
The final few minutes went terribly, as the Panthers tied it up after going 92 yards in just over two minutes. Then, a dropped pass for the Mountaineers turned into an interception return for the winning touchdown.
Let’s take a closer look at the first defeat of 2022 and preview this week’s tilt with Kansas.
Late turnover costs Mountaineers in Week 1
WVU appeared to be on its way to an impressive showing on the road against a rival, but it went downhill quickly.
With not much time left on the game clock, Pitt drove the length of the field in seven plays with minimal resistance. Quarterback Kedon Slovis connected on three consecutive passes totaling 58 yards to finish it off in the end zone. He found running back Israel Abanikanda for a 24-yard score to tie things up.
The WVU offense had a solid chance to still get out of there with a victory, but a costly turnover handed it to Pitt.
After a great game that produced a solid portion of the team’s offense, wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton let a target slip through his hands. The ball fell to Pitt’s M.J. Devonshire, who took it the rest of the way for six points.
Despite the loss, there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the remainder of the campaign.
The offense looked vastly improved compared to a year ago. New quarterback JT Daniels played well for the most part, with the final interception not on his shoulders at all.
Daniels threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns in his WVU debut. He wasn’t the only player to be excited about going forward, though.
On offense, Ford-Wheaton looked unstoppable at times. He caught a total of nine passes for 97 yards, to go along with two scores.
While Tony Mathis Jr. didn’t have a poor performance, he got overshadowed by freshman CJ Donaldson. Mathis totaled 71 yards on 16 carries; however, Donaldson made the most of his opportunities. He took his seven attempts for 125 yards, including a long of 44 yards.
Defensively, a few Mountaineers stood out among the rest.
Junior linebacker Lee Kpogba flew around the field the entire night. He led WVU in both total and solo tackles, notching 10 in the game.
Even so, the unit’s most dominant force was defensive lineman Dante Stills. The senior was a force up front, recording 1.5 sacks.
WVU football vs. Kansas preview
The Mountaineers are likely to get back to .500 and into the win column facing the Jayhawks this weekend. WV sportsbooks vary slightly but show them laying around -13.5 points in the point spread.
Kansas comes into its first Big 12 matchup with a 1-0 record. It managed a lopsided win its first time out, beating Tennessee Tech by 46 points.
Although WVU doesn’t get its regular conference schedule started for a few more weeks, this is an important tilt. Starting 0-2 would be awful in general; plus, KU is a Big 12 opponent.
The fans in Morgantown haven’t needed to worry much about these battles with the Jayhawks. WVU’s taken them down in each of the previous eight seasons, with its last loss dating back to November 2013.
Junior Jalon Daniels runs the show for Kansas as a dual-threat option. He completed a very efficient game in Kansas’ opener, hitting better than 83% of his attempts. His 15 completions went for 189 yards and a touchdown last week.
Daniels can also hurt teams on the ground. He added three carries for 29 yards and another score in his team’s first outing.
Daniels didn’t need to do much passing, as his running attack carried a good portion of the offense. As a whole, Kansas rushed for nearly 300 yards on just 30 attempts.
Several backs had good games, but it was sophomore Devin Neal who stole the limelight. He converted his four carries into 108 yards and two touchdowns, including a long of 80.
On the outside, the Jayhawks feature just one receiver who caught more than two passes in their first contest. Sophomore Lawrence Arnold hauled in four receptions for 56 yards to pace the receiving corps.
On the other side of the ball, defensive end Lonnie Phelps caused plenty of havoc a week ago. Not only did he lead his side in tackles with seven, but he also recorded three sacks.
West Virginia betting and WVU football odds
Even though WVU fell to Pitt, bettors weren’t too upset. The Mountaineers still covered, as they were getting +7.5 at the majority of books.
To cover the spread again this week, they’ll need to win by at least two touchdowns.
According to DraftKings WV, the Mountaineers are laying the -13.5, with a moneyline at a staggering -520. Kansas is available to take straight up at +410.
The online sportsbook lists the game total at 59.5 points, up a bit from last week.
Mountain State bettors have lots of additional options to look at when considering this game. Despite Daniels not reaching his mark a week ago, his passing total is significantly higher against KU. DraftKings provides his number at 292.5 yards, with both the over and under available at -115.
You can even wager on how many touchdowns Daniels will throw. DraftKings set the line at 2.5 scores, with the over at +105 and the under with odds of -140.