West Virginia is still undefeated, though it has yet to see the bulk of its Schedule and a trip to Iowa State may be its toughest Game to date. The Cyclones will at least put up a fight and they showed that in an upset at OK State last weekend. The Mountaineers were still -7 point road favorites with an over/under of 57.5 as of Wednesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
This Game is harder than it looks. It was only a year ago that the ISU defense held Will Grier and company in check for just 20 points. Sure, the Mountaineers still won 20-16, but barely and that one came in West Virginia. Now in Ames, the Cyclones will be looking for back-to-back upsets. And even though Iowa State is 1-2 in Conference play, they’ve arguably been more impressive, competing against Oklahoma, losing at TCU by just three points and then winning at OK State. West Virginia hasn’t exactly been challenged against three of the weaker teams in the Big 12. This one could tell a lot about WVU’s realistic shot of beating both Texas and Oklahoma in November.
The only way for that to happen is on the arm of Grier, who is putting up huge numbers as expected with 21 touchdowns on a 71.2% completion rate and 10.28 yards per attempt. He’s had an issue of interceptions in recent Games and that can’t continue if they want to win on the road. He was great in this meeting last year, yet still only led the offense to 20 points despite completing 20-of-25 passes for 316 yards. It helps that he has a top receiving core with Marcus Simms, David Sills and Gary Jennings one of the best trios in the country, if not the best. More impressive in last year’s meeting was that WVU still ran for over 200 yards and that’d be a big help if Leddie Brown and Kennedy McKoy could do that again. However, that’s asking a lot against this defense, especially on the road.
Iowa State will be able to compete with its defense, but it won’t be able to win unless its quarterback puts points on the board. Brock Purdy opened up the offense against OK State with Four passing touchdowns and another touchdown on the ground with 83 rushing yards. However, Kyle Kempt is still the No. 1 and if he’s healthy, he would get the start over Purdy. No matter who is at quarterback, they still need to get a ground Game going and it doesn’t help that stud running back David Montgomery is questionable to play.
The most surprising thing for WVU in the first half of the season is the defense that’s allowing less than 20 points per Game. But dive into those numbers and they’re boosted by a lack of elite offenses faced, which is a reason why Iowa State could move the ball in this one. The Cyclones showed last week they have a quarterback not named Kempt that can lead the offense and that makes this team a big threat for more upsets.
The Mountaineers are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 road Games against a team with a losing home record, while the Cyclones are 13-3-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 21-6-1 ATS in their last 28 overall. West Virginia is 3-0-1 ATS in the last Four meetings between these schools and the road team is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six.
Our Pick – Iowa State +6.5