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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (50,071) -- Lawrence, Kansas. Television: FSN. Home Record: WVU 3-2, KU 2-3. Away Record: WVU 1-4, KU 0-4. Neutral Record: WVU 0-0, KU 0-0. Conference Record: WVU 2-5, KU 0-6. Series: WVU leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The West Virginia Mountaineers will make their first-ever trip to Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Kansas Jayhawks in a Big 12 Conference tilt at Memorial Stadium.
West Virginia is coming off back-to-back overtime contests; a 30-27 win at TCU on Nov. 2 and a 47-40 loss to Big 12 leader Texas this past weekend. After a solid start to the season, the Mountaineers have dropped four of their last five outings. Consequently, they'll need to win here and then beat Iowa State at home next week in order to become bowl eligible for the 12th straight year.
Kansas is in the midst of a 27-game conference losing streak, as the team's last win against a Big 12 foe was all the way back on Nov. 6, 2010 against Colorado. The Jayhawks were dealt a 42-6 loss at Oklahoma State last week. Following this tilt, they'll conclude the regular season at Iowa and then home against Kansas State.
WVU won both prior meetings in the all-time series with the Jayhawks.
West Virginia was unable to overcome five turnovers against Texas, the last of which sealed the outcome as Paul Millard was intercepted on 4th-and-goal in overtime. It was one of four turnovers for Millard (two INTs, two fumbles), who completed 16-of-32 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown. Charles Sims carried 24 times for 93 hard-fought yards and three scores on the day. It marked the third time this season the Mountaineers reached 40 points, although it was also the second such occasion they were on the losing end. Clinging to a three-point lead late in regulation against the Longhorns, the offense was unable to put the game away as it failed to convert a 3rd-and-1 with less than three minutes to play.
The Mountaineers punted the ball back to Texas following that failed conversion, and the Longhorns then drove 57 yards in 12 plays to set up a 24- yard field goal to force overtime, where they eventually won it. WVU's defense faded as the game progressed. After holding UT to 16 points and 123 yards in the first half, the Mountaineers gave up 31 points and 312 yards after intermission. They had a chance to seal the win in regulation but were unable to come up with a stop on 4th-and-7 near midfield with less than a minute to play. Texas got a nine-yard completion to move the chains, and then a 27-yard run by Malcolm Brown to put the ball on the WVU 11 with 13 seconds remaining. On the season, the Mountaineers are tied for first in the conference and sixth in the country in turnovers gained.
They'll go up against a Kansas offense that is ranked 117th in the nation (295.1 ypg) and has not eclipsed 20 points since a season-opening win over FCS school South Dakota. The Jayhawks did surpass their season average with 316 yards of total offense against Oklahoma State, although they failed to get into the end zone. Jake Heaps, who is closing in on 5,000 career passing yards, completed only 4-of-8 attempts for 56 yards and an interception. Freshman Montell Cozart also logged time under center but did not fare much better, as he was just 6-of-17 for 58 yards to go along with 55 rushing yards on 18 attempts. Tony Pierson returned from a three-game absence (concussion) and gained 87 yards on six rushes, but starting tailback James Sims was bottled up to just 66 yards on 21 totes (3.1 ypc).
Defensively, KU did an admirable job in limiting the Cowboys to 359 total yards on their home turf. OSU was held to 85 rushing yards and a team average of 2.7 ypc, while Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf completed only 51 percent of his attempts. However, the Cowboys managed to come away with touchdowns on all five of their trips to the red zone, whereas the Jayhawks made three trips inside the 20 and got only two field goals, a key factor in the outcome. Ben Heeney led the way with a game-high 11 tackles, including two for loss. After missing two games with an ankle injury, Heeney has logged 20 tackles in his last two games and currently leads the team with 63 stops on the year (9.0 TFL).
Sloppy play on the offensive side of the ball plagued the Mountaineers in their last outing, but with a postseason berth still within reach, look for a more focused effort in a winnable matchup.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 37, Kansas 17
11/14 16:03:37 ET