The penultimate game of Scott Satterfield’s first season at the helm of the Bearcats is here. His squad finally got their first Big 12 win a week ago when they knocked off Houston. They’ll look to keep some momentum as they stay on the road for this week’s game. Cincinnati travels to West Virginia to square off with an old Big East conference foe. Here’s a preview of the Mountaineers and what Cincinnati can do to make it two wins in a row.
Before the season started, Big 12 media members predicted this game to be the worst conference game of the whole year. They voted for West Virginia to finish last in the league and Cincinnati to be one spot ahead of them. Cincinnati remains at the bottom, but West Virginia sits sixth in the conference with a 4-3 record in league play and 6-4 overall. The Mountaineers suffered a huge loss at the hands of Oklahoma a week ago.
The Mountaineer Offense
The West Virginia offense is run very similarly to the Cincinnati offense. The two teams are going to run it. A lot. West Virginia runs it on 63% of its plays; that’s the third most for any non-service academy team this year. The rushing attack averages 204 yards per game on the ground, tenth in the country.
CJ Donaldson Jr. leads the rushing attack, in which carries are divided up just like they are in Cincinnati’s backfield. Donaldson is their version of Corey Kiner. Both of these players have 161 carries on the year. Donaldson is 130 yards behind Kiner with 755 on the year, but he’s found the end zone 10 times. Donaldson was banged up last week and missed practice earlier in this game week. His status is unclear for Saturday. If he wasn’t able to go, it would be a huge hit for the WVU offense. The Myles Montgomery, change of pace counterpart for WVU is Jahiem White. He has 59 carries for 455 yards this year. Montgomery has 62 carries for 409.
Garrett Greene is under center for mountaineers and is a dual-threat guy. The rushing games in this matchup are oddly similar, as Greene has rushed for 451 yards this year to Cincinnati’s Emory Jones’ 455. When it comes to throwing it, the Mountaineers are too effective. They rank toward the bottom of the country in many passing stats, including 106th in yards per game with just 184. Greene has 1,699 yards, 12 touchdowns, and three interceptions through the air this year. The reception leaders for them are wide receiver Devin Carter and tight end Kole Taylor, both with 26 catches on the year and 481 and 308 yards, respectively.
West Virginia Defense: What to Exploit
The Mountaineer defense hasn’t been too impressive this year. Against the run, they allow 164 yards per game, middle of the pack. They’re significantly worse against the pass. Teams like to chuck it against them as opponents throw 52% of the time. They give up 247 yards per game, second-worst in the Big 12.
Linebacker Lee Kpogba leads the way on defense with 71 total tackles this season. He adds two sacks as well. A ball hawk in the secondary is cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr. Bishop leads the conference with 23 pass defenses and is second with four interceptions on the year. Whether it be Jones or Brady Lichtenberg at quarterback for Cincinnati, they must make a note to not give Bishop his chances because he will take advantage.
Keys To The Game
Alter Their Plan, Come Out Hot
It’s been made clear that these teams play alike. They both want to control the game with the rushing attack and hold on to the ball. Both rank in the top 10 in time of possession, with WVU coming in second. The Mountaineers are going to want to establish ground dominance and shorten the game. If Cincinnati can come out hot, putting West Virginia at an early deficit, they’d have to change their game plan. The Mountaineers aren’t built to come from behind, and forcing them to do so could prove crucial to Cincinnati.
Make Some Big Plays
Whoever is playing quarterback for UC can help them out a lot by hitting some big plays. Letting Braden Smith or Xzavier Henderson create some mismatches can be key. A week ago, the Cincinnati defense was finally able to make things happen with turnovers. If the Cats can execute the first key to the game, the defense will have a chance to put West Virginia in the ground with some takeaways when it’s forced to be uncomfortable.
West Virginia is a 6.5-point favorite in this matchup in Morgantown. The total is set at 54. Cincinnati got the monkey off its back a week ago and can finally take a breath with a Big 12 win. West Virginia is coming off its worst loss of the year just last week. It should feel like an old Big East game as Cincinnati looks to keep momentum against West Virginia and finish the season off right.