When West Virginia and Iowa State meet Saturday afternoon, both teams will enter in a completely different position than when they met a year ago.
The 2019 meeting was West Virginia’s third conference game of the year and both teams entered 1-1 in league play. This time around, it was supposed to be the regular season finale for both teams, but WVU will have one additional game at home against Oklahoma.
In the last meeting, starting quarterback Austin Kendall sustained an upper body injury on the Mountaineers’ opening series and Jack Allison played the rest of the contest at the position. It looked like things might turn around for the home team after Tykee Smith picked off Brock Purdy and returned it 19 yards for the first score of the game, but it was all Cyclones from there.
Iowa State tallied 24 unanswered points in the second half, including 17 in the final quarter. It also held WVU to just 44 yards after halftime and 41 total rushing yards. The Mountaineers also played without starting cornerback Keith Washington due to an injury. The 38-14 loss was No. 2 on a five-game skid in year one of the Neal Brown era.
West Virginia enters the 2020 clash in much better position a year later, especially offensively. Quarterback Jarret Doege and running back Leddie Brown have their unit much improved. Brown has 897 yards on the year, surpassing the team rushing total for the entire 2019 season. He’s the league’s No. 2 rusher.
Defensively, it leads the nation in pass defense and is No. 4 in total defense.
Health, confidence and fight — those are the three biggest changes in this WVU team. There’s been a number of contests that have come down to the final quarter, and unlike a year ago, it has been able to overcome mistakes and finish the right way.
In Ames, Neal Brown hopes his team can show it isn’t the same one that faced Matt Campbell’s 2019 Cyclones in Morgantown, and it’s capable of producing the opposite outcome.