Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#163 West Virginia vs.
#164 Kansas
Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

The West Virginia Mountaineers will try to lock down a bowl bid with a win over the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. West Virginia enters at 5-6 (3-5 Big 12) after taking down the Texas Longhorns 31-23 last Saturday as a 2.5-point home favorite. Kansas is coming off a tight 31-28 road loss to the TCU Horned Frogs as a 21-point underdog over the weekend, and is now 2-9 (1-7 Big 12) for the year.

This has been a one-sided series historically, with West Virginia holding a 9-1 advantage after winning 38-17 in Morgantown last season. Kansas' lone win over the Mountaineers came in 2013.

Mountaineers offense comes to life to beat Texas

It hasn't been a great season for West Virginia in year three under head coach Neal Brown, but it still has a great shot at qualifying for a bowl game after beating Texas at home last weekend. Sam James capped off an easy opening drive for the Mountaineers with a 20-yard touchdown reception before Winston Wright and Leddie Brown both scored in the second quarter to make it a 21-0 game. Texas would battle back to make it a little closer, but Sean Ryan's seven-yard scoring catch near the end of the third quarter was enough insurance.

Quarterback Jarret Doege had his best performance of the season, completing 27 of 43 pass attempts for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Brown had a massive night with 33 carries for 158 yards and a score, while Wright led the Mountaineers with six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. It was a strong all-around effort, as West Virginia finished with a 459-355 advantage in total yards while winning the turnover battle 1-0.

“I would just say, it’s just a team effort.Protection was good, receivers made plays, and I threw the ball well,” Doege said via Blue Gold Sports. “When that happens, we can convert those third and longs and fourth downs.”

West Virginia is 6-5 against the spread, and had failed to cover in its previous two games with ugly losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma State before taking down Texas. Overs are 4-7 for the Mountaineers, with two of their last three games going under the betting total.

It has not been a good year for the West Virginia offense, which is averaging just 26.2 points and 380.2 yards per game this season. West Virginia's defense has been the strength of the team, with opponents averaging 24.0 points and 350.8 yards per contest so far.

Doege has largely struggled, completing 238 of 365 pass attempts for 2,738 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but could be turning things around after the strong performance last Saturday. Brown is having another big year with 204 carries for 909 yards and 12 touchdowns plus two receiving yards, while Wright leads the team with 57 receptions for 643 yards and three touchdowns. Dante Stills has been a disruptive defender for the Mountaineers, piling up 13 tackles for loss, six sacks, one pick and one forced fumble.

Linebacker Lance Dixon (undisclosed) and defensive back Charles Woods (undisclosed) are hoping to return to the lineup after missing the Texas game. Second-leading receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton left the Texas game early with an injury and his status is unknown for this weekend. Corner Nicktroy Fortune (leg) and tight end Mike O'Laughlin (leg) are done for the season.

Kansas competitive, but can't pull off second straight upset

After pulling off a stunning upset of Texas the previous week, Kansas built momentum with another solid performance but lost a heartbreaker in the final seconds at TCU. Jalon Daniels got Kansas on the board with a 14-yard touchdown run 10 minutes into the first quarter before the Jayhawks took the lead on Devin Neal's short run early in the second, only for TCU to reel off 21 straight points after the break. Luke Grimm and Jared Casey then both recorded a touchdown reception over a five-minute span in the fourth quarter, but TCU put together a 14-play, 67-yard drive to kick a game-winning field goal as time wound down.

Daniels played well under center again, completing 22 of 30 pass attempts for 255 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while adding 37 rushing yards and another score. Kwamie Lassiter II had a huge game with eight receptions for 101 yards, while Neal carried the ball 14 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. Kansas was outgained 492-379, yet managed to stay in the game by forcing two turnovers and getting a stop on fourth down.

“J.D., when he came in, he played great,” Lassiter II said to Kansas' website about Daniels' improving the offense late in the season. “He makes smart decisions. I tell him that before every game, like make smart decisions, play one play at a time. I feel like he's done that. So I think that’s helped him out, and I think that’s helped the team out a lot, too, because we’ve been extending drives and we've been scoring in the red zone — and we’ve just been doing things that we really weren’t doing at first (earlier this season).

The Jayhawks have also struggled against the spread at 3-8, although all three covers have come over the last five games with close losses to Oklahoma and TCU plus beating Texas outright as a 31-point underdog. Overs are 6-5 for the Jayhawks, with two of their last three games going under the betting total.

It has been ugly statistically for the Jayhawks on both sides of the ball this year, with the offense putting up an average of 20.1 points and 325.2 yards per game, although it has gotten much better of late. Kansas' defense is still struggling, with opponents racking up 42.9 points and 492.1 yards per contest.

The reason for the late offensive turnaround is Daniels, who has completed 59 of 85 pass attempts for 611 yards, six touchdowns and one interception in five games while adding 74 yards and two scores on the ground. Neal has also been solid with 158 carries for 707 yards and eight touchdowns, while Lassiter II is the team's top pass catcher with 52 catches for 608 yards and three scores. Kenny Logan is the leader of the Kansas defense with 96 tackles including three for a loss, one interception, two forced fumbles and six pass breakups.

Kansas has been down a few pass catchers, as tight ends Trevor Kardell (undisclosed) and Will Huggins (undisclosed) plus receivers Torry Locklin (leg) and Kevin Terry (undisclosed) could all be out. Running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. (undisclosed) will miss the entire season, while fullback Spencer Roe is also out for an undisclosed reason. Backup quarterback Miles Kendrick, who played in parts of five games this year, is out with a leg injury.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Lance Leipold has pulled off massive rebuilding jobs at his previous coaching stops, and the Jayhawks already look to be slowly trending in the right direction at the end of year one with a number of competitive showings lately. The Kansas offense has some juice right now after a late-season quarterback change, while West Virginia's own limited passing attack makes it difficult to pull away from opponents.

Daniels has added some much-needed playmaking for the Jayhawks with 7.6 yards per pass attempt in his two starts and just one interception, a massive improvement from previous signal callers, in addition to his dual-threat ability. The Mountaineers meanwhile have not been an efficient offense at all with just 5.1 yards per play against Division I opponents to rank 93rd nationally, as Doege has struggled to push the ball downfield.

That has made it difficult to build big leads, as other than a 66-0 destruction of FCS LIU, the Mountaineers have only one game by more than a touchdown, and that was just by 12 against struggling TCU. Kansas has been a solid bet the last few weeks, and will stick around long enough at home on Saturday against a mediocre West Virginia team.

 

 

Prediction: Kansas +16

Full-Game Total Pick

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Even though Kansas' offense is hot coming in, the Mountaineers will provide a challenge, having allowed a strong 5.5 yards per play with some NFL-level talent upfront like Stills to cause problems for the Kansas offensive line. The problems are all on the other side of the ball as the Mountaineers have not run well while giving up a ton of sacks, and recent performances from the Kansas defense against TCU and Oklahoma are respectable enough.

Pace will be a huge factor in this one, as Kansas slows things way down to an average of 63.8 plays per game while West Virginia operates at a middling tempo under Brown. The Mountaineers defense will be in control here, but their offense on the other side won't create enough explosive plays in a lower-scoring game.

Prediction: Under 55.5
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Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily. 
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