Happy, happy, happy.
That’s what the Mountain State should be on Saturday.
First, West Virginia University hosts winless Kansas at noon Saturday in Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are whopping 22.5-point favorites.
In the second game of the twinbill, undefeated Marshall University takes on Louisiana Tech (3-1) at 6 p.m. in Joe Aillet Stadium at Ruston, Louisiana. The Thundering Herd is an impressive 13.5-point road favorite.
Sounds like a win-win situation, huh?
Let’s examine each game.
Kansas has been out-scored by an average margin of 32.0-14.7 points. The Jayhawks are allowing 44.0 points per game. So far, Kansas has lost to Coastal Carolina, 38-23, at home and, then, was smashed by two teams WVU already has played — Baylor (47-14) and Oklahoma State (47-7).
Yes, Kansas has the one-two rushing punch of running backs Velton Gardner and Pooka Williams. And, yes, Williams is one of the most dynamic offensive threats in all of college football.
The Jayhawks have managed only three sacks, which is good news to WVU’s young and struggling offensive line, not to mention quarterback Jarret Doege and the downfield passing game.
But here’s the biggest, most compelling comparative statistic. Kansas is dead-last in the Big 12 in total offense. The Mountaineers? They lead the Big 12 in total defense.
Talk about a bad matchup.
Besides all that, Kansas head coach Les Miles tested positive for the coronavirus and wasn’t able to attend practices this week. Whether or not Miles will be in Morgantown for game day is questionable.
After considering all this information, I find it very difficult not to pick WVU to win in a rout. The Mountaineers will win, 41-13.
Now, for Marshall.
Although LA Tech has a 3-1 record, the Bulldogs haven’t been the least bit impressive. First, Tech edged Southern Miss, 31-30. Next, it was routed by BYU, 45-14. Then, last week LA Tech managed to defeat down-trodden UTEP, 21-17, in an offensive performance veteran coach Skip Holtz labeled “the worst since I’ve been at LA Tech.”
The Bulldogs are allowing 32.5 points and 418.3 yards total offense per game. Tech also is giving up an average of 300.3 yards passing. Then, on offense, the Bulldogs are rushing for only 127.5 yards per game.
Considering Marshall’s ultra-aggressive defense is permitting an average of only 89.0 yards rushing … well, do the math.
To be honest, there’s only one factor that Louisiana Tech has in its favor. Although this is the seventh year LA Tech has been a member of Conference USA, this will be Marshall’s first appearance ever for a football game in Ruston, La.
And, yes, that takes veteran MU coach Doc Holliday a little out of his comfort zone.
“I’ve never been to LA Tech,” said Holliday. “Never been to that stadium. Played them several times, but haven’t had the opportunity to be there.”
A second consecutive road trip and all the COVID protocols it entails seemed to bother Holliday even more.
“With everything going on right now,” he said, “the road trips are becoming even more complicated. It’s tough to travel under these conditions right now.
“Our kids have to do a great job this week, as far as the way we travel and attack the visiting hotel and all the above. Leadership is very important when you go on the road.”
That’s where guys like star running back Brenden Knox take center stage.
“Never having been there can come into play,” said Knox. “But if you look at what you’re there for, if you treat it as a business trip and just focus on exactly what you’re trying to get done … no, I don’t think it will bother us.”
Knox is absolutely correct.
That’s why Marshall will win, 31-10.
Season Record: 5-1