Game Preview: WVU Starts Big 12 Play at KU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Game Preview: WVU Starts Big 12 Play at KU

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WVU quarterback Will Grier talks with receiver David Sills during Saturday's game against Delaware St. game. WVU quarterback Will Grier talks with receiver David Sills during Saturday's game against Delaware St. game.

By Ryan Decker 

With a pair of relatively easy victories under their belts, the West Virginia Mountaineers (2-1) travel to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the Jayhawks (1-2) as conference play begins.

WVU is one of three one-loss teams in the Big 12, whereas Kansas is one of only three teams in the conference with a losing record. 

Despite not facing one of the premier programs, WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday you can’t overlook Kansas. 

“This will be a big challenge for us,” he said. “And I think our guys will be excited for that.” 

Offensively, the Jayhawks have been much more efficient through the air than they have been in recent years. 

Quarterback Peyton Bender became the fastest Kansas passer to eclipse 1,000 passing yards and is attempting to become the first 2,000-yard passer in Lawrence since 2009. 

Two of his biggest targets are wideout Steven Sims Jr. and tight end Ben Johnson. Sims hauled in six catches for 60 yards last week in his return to action. The week prior, he started but could not finish the game due to an ankle injury, which ended his streak of 24-straight games with at least one catch. 

Johnson, a senior, is averaging over 14 yards per reception. 

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will look to find his favorite targets, as well, against a Kansas defense that’s surrendering almost 300 yards per game through the air thus far. 

Grier has topped that number in each of his first three games as a Mountaineer, ranks second nationally with 11 touchdowns, and first in the NCAA in deep passing yards. 

David Beaty’s team hasn’t faired great against the run either, which isn’t a good sign when welcoming in the Big 12’s leading rusher in Justin Crawford. 

One thing that the Jayhawks defense has excelled in is being able to stop plays behind the line of scrimmage. Led by Joe Dineen Jr.’s seven, Kansas has 25 tackles for loss. Daniel Wise has six stops in the backfield as well. 

Dineen is the conference’s leading tackler and has recorded at least 11 tackles in each game. His 38 stops are third best in the nation. 

Despite being a team that’s good at stopping plays in the backfield, the Jayhawks have recorded just two sacks this year. 

Kansas has also given up eight plays that gained 30-plus yards, and West Virginia’s offense has run 12 such plays. 

Opponents have scored at least 40 points in each of the last two games against the Jayhawks. Meanwhile, the WVU first-team defense has surrendered just one touchdown over its last two contests. 

Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET and fans can watch the game on ESPNU. Fans can also listen to pregame coverage on 91.7 FM or u92.wvu.edu starting at 9 a.m.

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