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Kansas Jayhawks vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Preview and Prediction

Rushel Shell

Rushel Shell

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It was a tough week for the West Virginia Mountaineers last week. They suffered their first loss of the season and then saw their hopes of getting into the College Football Playoff diminished when they debuted at No. 20 in the initial rankings.

The Kansas Jayhawks have seen improvements under second-year head coach David Beaty. However, Kansas still has a ways to go before climbing out of the Big 12 cellar.

The Mountaineers are still in the middle of the conference championship race while the Jayhawks are simply looking for something positive to build on. To that end, Kansas has not won a Big 12 road game since 2008.

Kansas at West Virginia

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: West Virginia -34.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Montell Cozart will test the WVU secondary
Kansas’ redshirt junior quarterback has been one of the bright spots for the Jayhawks this season. With a completion percentage of a little more than 60 percent he has settled in well to head coach David Beaty’s new Air Raid offense.

The Mountaineers’ secondary has more than held its own this season against some of the best quarterbacks the nation has to offer. Cozart will be able to keep the Jayhawks within striking distance but only if he is able to pick apart a West Virginia secondary that has been tough to beat.

2. Who will get the majority of the carries for the Mountaineers?
Over the last few weeks West Virginia’s backfield has been plagued by injuries. While there have been no significant issues, Rushel Shell, Justin Crawford, and Kennedy McKoy have been banged up as of late. Crawford is dealing with a sprained shoulder and McKoy has a tender shoulder.

Whoever is healthiest will see the bulk of the carries this weekend, the question is; who will that be?

3. How will Mountaineers respond to their first loss?
This really shouldn’t be a game; West Virginia is clearly more talented than Kansas. However, this is your prototypical trap game.

The Mountaineers travel to Texas next Saturday, which is sure to be a great contest. Even if the Mountaineers are looking past Kansas they should come away with a victory. West Virginia is 3-1 against the Jayhawks since joining the Big 12 and should extend that record to 4-1.

However, some Mountaineer players have voiced their displeasure with the playoff rankings. Things like that do have a tendency to plague a team. Don’t expect the Mountaineers to come out flat but do not be surprised if they do not have the same fire they’ve had up until last week. That first loss always hurts the most.

Final Analysis

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The Mountaineers remain one of the best teams in the Big 12 and they will be looking to prove a point Saturday at home.

While the chances of a College Football Playoff berth appear slim, never say never. West Virginia will have to cover the spread in this game as anything less would be detrimental to rising in the playoff rankings.

The fact that West Virginia is still contending for their first Big 12 title does not bode well for the Kansas. The Jayhawks simply are not able to compete with the Mountaineers this season. Expect West Virginia to play well enough to make this a blowout but that 34.5 point spread is a little too large.

Prediction: West Virginia 44, Kansas 13

— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.