A Little Know-Howe: Stopping Ground Game, Scoring 40 vs.TCU Keys for WVU Getting Win in Fort Worth

By Brad Howe on October 07, 2017 from A Little Know-Howe via Connect-Bridgeport.com

With big challenges come big opportunities. And such is the case today as West Virginia University travels to Fort Worth, Texas for a game against TCU.
West Virginia's season is now one third complete, but I don't feel like I know who this team is going to be yet. WVU is a play or two away from being undefeated, but the three victories have come against vastly inferior teams.
Today's game should give us a good indication of where WVU is headed. Win and a conference title run is a realistic goal. This series with TCU was close early, but has been lopsided the last two years.
In the first three meetings after both teams joined the Big 12, the games were decided by a combined five points. The last two? The average margin of victory has been 27 points.
What's the key today? In my opinion, it begins and ends with one question. Can WVU stop the run?
The last time we saw WVU play it wasn't pretty defensively. Kansas, a team that likes to THROW the ball, rolled up 367 yards on the ground. Khalil Herbert ran for more yards against WVU than any other back in history.
I know there were a slew of injuries on the defensive side of the ball against Kansas. No David Long or Toyous Avery. Kyzir White left the game early.
Long is expected to return today. That will help. But, exactly how much it will help remains to be seen.
Can WVU give up half as many rushing yards to TCU, a team that runs the ball 60 percent of the time, than it did to KU? It may take that to win. Under Gary Patterson, TCU is 86-5 when it runs for 200 or more yards in a game. They are currently averaging 223 yards per game on the ground.
The West Virginia defense is giving up 226 yards rushing per game. In two of its three wins against WVU, TCU has rushed for 200 or more yards.
Keep an eye on that stat today.
Assuming Long, Avery and White all play, today will be the first game this season where Tony Gibson has had his full number one unit together. Is that enough to slow TCU's rushing attack and give the Will Grier-led offense a chance to do its thing.
Speaking of Grier, through four games he has lived up to the enormous hype he received coming into the season. Today marks his opportunity to enter the national discussion as one of the best in the country.
Every program-defining quarterback to come through WVU has had that one moment, that one win that put the stamp on their greatness.
Is today that day for Grier? If WVU is going to win, the offense will have to be as good as it's been the last three weeks.
49 points (WVU's average) may be unrealistic against this talented, experienced TCU unit, but can WVU get to 40 points today?
It only scored 24 against a good Virginia Tech defense. But, that was Grier's first game in nearly two seasons. It was Jake Spavital's first game calling plays with this group. And WVU was without Marcus Simms, who would have helped loosen up the Tech defense and would have helped with the punt return game.
That's the second number to keep an eye today. Can WVU get to 40 points scored?
Surprisingly, only one team in this series has made it to 40 points. TCU did it in 2014 in a 40-15 win. The average number of combined points scored in the five previous Big 12 meetings between these two teams is just 57.8 points.
This one should be fun today. The pressure is all on TCU. They will be the story on ESPN's Gameday which is originating from campus. They are the team seemingly everyone is writing about as the dark horse candidate for the college football playoff.
It won't be easy to win on the road against a top 10 team. But, with big challenges come big opportunities.
What do you think the final score will be? Will WVU hold TCU to less than 200 yards rushing?
Leave us a comment or send me a tweet: @BradHowe07
Editor's Note: WVU will be tasked with stopping the legs, and arms of QB Kenny Hill, above, and the strategy of Coach Gary Patterson, middle. Will Grier, bottom, could have a breakout game in front of a national audience today. Photos by Ben Queen of www.benqueenphotography.com.

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