The West Virginia Mountaineers came up short in an upset bid against Oklahoma State last week, losing 20-13 at home. West Virginia is now 4-7 overall and 2-6 in Big 12 play, meaning the Mountaineers will not be going to a bowl game in Neal Brown’s first season as head coach. West Virginia has now lost six of its last seven games ahead of this week’s trip to Fort Worth to take on the TCU Horned Frogs.
TCU also played a tough opponent well last week, nearly knocking off Oklahoma before falling 28-24. The Frogs fell to 5-6 overall, including a 3-5 mark in league action, and have now lost three of four. Nevertheless, a win over West Virginia would make TCU bowl eligible.
West Virginia at TCU
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 29, at 4:15 p.m. ET
Spread: TCU -12
When West Virginia Has the Ball
Austin Kendall started each of the first nine games at quarterback for the Mountaineers, but he has since given way to Jarret Doege. Like Kendall, Doege is a transfer in his first season at West Virginia. The junior joined the Mountaineers from Bowling Green, where he made 18 starts. In three games at West Virginia, Doege has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 660 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. Last week, Doege completed 28-of-38 pass attempts (73.7 percent) for 307 yards and one touchdown.
Redshirt freshman Sam James has emerged as the primary receiving option for the Mountaineers. He leads the team with 66 receptions and 663 yards, and he has also caught two touchdown passes. Florida State transfer George Campbell leads the Mountaineers with seven touchdown catches and has averaged an explosive 24.68 yards per reception, having gained 469 yards on only 19 receptions. T.J. Simmons, who missed two games due to injury but returned to action last week, is tied with running back Kennedy McKoy for second on the unit with 34 receptions, which he has turned into 446 receiving yards and four scores.
McKoy has split carries with Leddie Brown, but neither has found much room to run. West Virginia ranks last in the Big 12 in every major rushing category, including rushing offense (72.09 yards per game) and yards per carry (2.58), both of which rank No. 129 nationally. Brown leads the Mountaineers with 320 rushing yards and has scored once on 92 attempts. McKoy has gained 272 yards, scoring a team-high three times on 90 carries.
When TCU Has the Ball
TCU quarterback Max Duggan also began the season in a backup role, though the true freshman quickly emerged as the top signal-caller for head coach Gary Patterson. Duggan has appeared in all 11 games for the Horned Frogs and has started each of the last nine. Duggan has posted only modest passing statistics, having completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 1,933 yards and 15 touchdowns with eight interceptions, while averaging 6.4 yards per pass attempt. Nevertheless, he’s shown flashes of brilliance at times, and he has also become one of the top rushing quarterbacks in the Big 12. Duggan ranks second on the team with 532 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 122 carries.
Darius Anderson leads the Frogs with 792 rushing yards on 141 attempts (5.62 yards per carry). He shares the load with Sewo Olonilua, who has run for 507 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns on 120 carries. Other playmakers include receiver Jalen Reagor, who leads the team with 37 receptions and 554 receiving yards and is tied with tight end Pro Wells for the team lead with five touchdown catches. Reagor, who has also run for 89 yards on 14 attempts, is a weapon on special teams as well; he returned a punt for a touchdown against Kansas.
TCU ranks second in the Big 12 in total defense (345.4 yards allowed per game), while West Virginia ranks No. 6 in the league (408.6). The two units are much closer in terms of yards allowed per play, with the Frogs surrendering 5.37 yards per snap compared to the Mountaineers’ 5.60, numbers that rank No. 50 and No. 65, respectively, among all FBS defenses. However, recent weeks have indicated a change in trajectory. West Virginia has allowed 395.7 yards per game and 5.42 yards per play in the month of November, while TCU has surrendered 416.5 yards per game and 6.26 yards per play during the same period.
Still, the Horned Frogs are deserving favorites. TCU has a more balanced offense, and motivation is certainly on the side of the Frogs given the need for win No. 6 to become bowl eligible. Senior Day festivities and home-field advantage should also provide a boost. Though West Virginia could play spoiler, and the Mountaineers have improved in several key areas in recent weeks, TCU should survive and earn a trip to the postseason.