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3 Things to Watch for this Weekend at West Virginia



With the Cowboys traveling to Morgantown this week, they have the biggest test of the season up to this point. Despite an incredibly messy game from the Mountaineers in Norman last week, the atmosphere alone will be a huge factor in an important conference game that could be a turning point in the season. Here are three things I will be watching for this weekend.

3. Atmosphere

Morgantown is a tough place to play. Baylor’s only regular season loss last year came at West Virginia, and the Sooners barely escaped last season after riding Samaje Perine’s cape through the entire second half. It has already announced the game will be a sellout, on top of a stripe-out and homecoming. In an atmosphere like this, it’s going to be a long day if you can’t jump out early to silence the crowd to keep them at bay.

2. Running backs

Mike Gundy expects both Chris Carson and Rennie Childs to be back this week, which should make the game plan a little more balanced compared to last weeks air crusade. Carson and Childs won’t be the only impact backs; West Virginia’s Wendel Smallwood and Rushel Shell have been the standout players for the ‘Eers offense that centers around the run game rather than the passing game. Smallwood is averaging over 6 yards a pop, with nearly 500 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. He’s a 5’11, 200-pound back and the speedster of the duo. He’s explosive out of the backfield and his threat in the passing game is something that can’t be overlooked.

Shell is the dominant back and the more physical between the two. A 220-pound back, Shell is a proven workhorse who can run you over and give the offense time to let their defense rest, which is why they have been so sound defensively. It will be important to keep both backs contained early and not let them establish themselves upfront.

1. WVU Secondary

West Virginia was being touted as the most stout defense in the Big 12 before Baker Mayfield had a field day in Norman last week. But with the loss of All-American safety Karl Joseph, their vulnerability in the secondary could change things significantly this weekend. Even with a less proven secondary, I still expect the Mountaineers to stack the box and attack to try and rattle Rudolph and an offensive line with little confidence. I don’t think they’ll change their game plan much; I expect they’ll leave their defensive backs on an island and bring the blitz early to try and shake things up.

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