Depending on where you live in the state, the West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech game may be bigger for you than the backyard brawl. No matter where it ranks for you, I’m all about these games being on the Mountaineers’ schedule.
For one reason, the atmosphere. After what we saw last year in Morgantown for this game and the season opener with Pitt, the atmosphere at Lane Stadium will be amazing. That’s a big key for WVU: how will they handle the atmosphere? The good news is they seemed to respond well in the opener at Acrisure Stadium. The crowd at Lane Stadium, however, will be more vocal and much more in favor of the Hokies.
Offensively, the Mountaineers need to continue to have success running the football and establish the ground game. Through three games, the Virginia Tech defense has allowed only 42 rushing yards per game, while WVU has averaged 217 yards. Freshman tailback CJ Donaldson has rushed for six touchdowns, which is good for No. 3 in the nation. Donaldson and Tony Mathis each ran for more than 100 yards last week. Overall, the Hokie defense is ranked fifth overall in the nation.
Defensively, the Mountaineers need to find a way to keep Virginia Tech’s offense off-balance. The Hokies have not scored more than 27 points in any of their first three games. In Virginia Tech’s season-opening loss to Old Dominion, quarterback Grant Wells, who joined the Hokies from Marshall, threw four interceptions for the Hokies. In that loss, the Hokies had five total turnovers. WVU has not picked off a pass yet this season and has only gained two fumble recoveries.
While a win this week cannot erase what happened in the first two weeks of the season, it could a long way for the Mountaineers still enjoying a successful season.