Every week is beginning to feel like déjà vu, but the West Virginia University Football Team (5-5, 2-5) lost another devastating game last Saturday to Oklahoma. After starting the year 5-0, they now find themselves at .500 and are still looking to become bowl eligible. They travel to Ames, IA to take on the Iowa State Cyclones (6-5, 3-5) in hopes of getting that elusive sixth win.
Although it was their fifth loss in a row, the Mountaineers gave OU more than they bargained for. West Virginia came in double-digit underdogs, but only lost by one after the Sooners scored with 24 seconds remaining. The offense returned to what they had been through the first five games and Tavon Austin emerged as a threat (a huge understatement with 344 yards on 22 carries) from the running back position. The defense, however, could not do anything to stop the Sooners either.
Iowa State pounded Kansas last week to give the Jayhawks their 20th straight Big 12 loss. Cyclones redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Richardson, who had not attempted a pass prior to that game, completed 23-27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns.
Geno Smith and the WVU offense will need to protect the football this weekend. The Iowa State pass defense has struggled all year, giving up 283.6 yards per game through the air, which is 114th nationally. But when you look at their points allowed, they have only given up 22.6 per game this season, ranking 30th. The key is that they are 16th in turnovers forced with 25.
WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen said Tavon Austin would start at running back for the rest of the season. Iowa State Head Coach Paul Rhoads may have had the quote of the year after watching film of Austin's performance against Oklahoma.
"I put down the game tape," Rhoads said. "Then soon after that, we vomited."
The Cyclones are 61st in rush defense, allowing 158.5 yards per game.
"One thing [Tavon] does well is once he gets through the seam into the open area, he does a good job of weaving and setting up blocks for the next level," Offensive Coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "He just has a knack for it. He's a good football player."
Offensively for Iowa State, they hope the debut of Sam Richardson was not a fluke. Previous starting quarterback Steele Jantz suffered a head injury during last week's game. Rhoads has not yet announced whether Jantz or Richardson will start against West Virginia, but he did say Richardson has the edge.
The running game for the Cyclones has been average this year, ranking 78th in the country. Shontrelle Johnson and James White have split carries for most of the season.
Wide receivers Josh Lenz, Chris Young and Aaron Horne have each caught over 300 yards worth of passes in 2012. Lenz and Ernst Brun Jr. each lead the team with five touchdown receptions.
The Cyclones as a team are averaging 25.3 points per game, 84th nationally.
"One thing about Iowa State is they're sound, they're simple, they play hard and they do the right things," Defensive Coordinator Joe DeForest said. "They hardly ever beat themselves. They do a good job of running their offense based on the personnel they have."
The West Virginia defense is yet again ranked dead last in FBS in passing yards allowed per game, giving up 364.6. As bad as they've been against the pass, they have been pretty good against the run. They are 30th in rush defense, giving up 131.9 yards per game.
This will be the first time either school has played against each other.
The weather forecast for Friday in Ames is currently supposed to be a cold and windy one. It is calling for a high of 33 with wind gusts reaching 23 mph.
The game will be at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be aired on ABC.