2013 Game XII: Iowa State (2-9, 1-7) at West Virginia (4-7, 2-6)
Time: 3:00 PM CST
Location: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
Line: WVU -7.5
Television: Fox Sports 1
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
West Virginia SBN Blog: The Smoking Musket
Motivation is failing miserably right now. Maybe it's because I've started writing this after a Thanksgiving dinner. Or maybe it's because the Cowboys are on. Or maybe, just maybe it's because I'm trying to preview a game for two bowl ineligible teams playing to see who can fire some coaches the fastest after the game ends around 6:00 PM CST.
Here's the gist of what's at stake on Saturday: nothing. Neither team can go bowling, both fan bases are frustrated, and the odds that this game is a sellout is next to nothing according to the Smoking Musket guys.
Iowa State's offense found their footing against Kansas on a slick field last week and rode the legs of the running backs to the first conference shutout since 2001. There was nothing special about the game except for Kansas' continued terribleness and Iowa State found a way to execute on offense because of it.
The running game was working as the line begins to gel as they get healthy and Kansas' piss poor soft man coverage allowed the screen game to look the best it has all season. If I were to credit Courtney Messingham with anything it's the fact that he kept going to that well when Kansas insisted on playing ten yards off the ball.
Flip the script to the other side of the field and Wally Burnham did the exact opposite of Kansas coordinator Dave Campo. He mixed man and zone looks but pressed his corners knowing that Kansas could not beat the defense deep, and if they did quarterback Montell Cozart would struggle to make the completion. It was nothing short of a masterpiece for Burnham in what could possibly be his final game in Jack Trice Stadium.
As for West Virginia they're coming off a bye week where they had the opportunity to lick their wounds over the Kansas loss and try to discover some offense against another dreadful defense. The running game works in spurts, but the passing game has suffered immensely due to the graduation of three of their best players in school history. Couple that with Dana Holgorsen's insistence on throwing deep and this season has been a recipe for disaster.
On the other side of the ball the Mountaineers rank next to last in most categories in Big XII play but somehow have been credited with keeping this team afloat in most games. This is because of yet again another aggressive defense centered around their historically favored 3-3-5 look. This is exactly the type of defense that has given Iowa State problems all season as they can blitz from multiple angles and are not afraid to play press coverage.
For those of you wanting a typical preview it's not going to happen. My apathy has taken over and at this point we're three hours away from sarcastically celebrating a win or taking this season out back and putting it down for good. If you're like me you couldn't be happier to move on to other things.
Would love to take the upset here, and I think it's very possible given how the run game has clicked the last two weeks, but West Virginia has lost only 15 times at home since 2003 and is playing on Senior Day after a bye week. Hard to bet against that.
West Virginia 23
Iowa State 19
PS - Enjoy the flames that are so pertinent to this season!