The Mountaineers had clear struggles on both sides of the ball in a lopsided defeat to No. 17 Oklahoma in Norman last Saturday, but will look to somehow get back on track against the Bearcats as the season winds down.
Cincinnati (3-7) is currently in last place in the Big 12 but, got their first-ever Big 12 win in a hard-fought victory against Houston last week.
The Bearcats rushed for over 200 yards with running back Corey Kiner leading the way with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
“Good win on the road for them last week. I think that was the best they played and I think they’ll have some confidence rolling in here,” West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said Monday.
Brown also stressed that Cincinnati should not be underestimated.
“If you just looked at the stats and didn’t look at their win-loss record, you know they’re a team that’s one of the top rushing teams in the whole conference, [their defense] stops the run at a high rate,” Brown said. “Then you look at their win-loss record you know and they’ve only won three games and one league game. It’s just really a weird makeup and they’ve been in all their games, lost some close ones but, they did play their best against Houston.”
Brown is familiar with Cincinnati head coach Scott Satterfield from coaching against him in the Sun Belt Conference when Brown coached Troy and Satterfield coached Appalachian State.
In their meetings in the SBC, Satterfield has the upper hand with a 2-1 record against Brown.
As a head coach, Satterfield likes to run the ball and then run the ball some more. In 2019 and 2021, Satterfield’s Louisville team ranked top 25 nationally in rushing.
This season thus far, the Bearcats have accumulated 2,223 rushing yards, averaging five yards an attempt.
The Mountaineers’ defense will need to place extra emphasis on stopping the run if they don’t want a similar result to that of Oklahoma State. In the 48-34 loss, Cowboys running back Ollie Gordon rushed for close to 300 yards and four touchdowns, putting WVU away single handedly.
In terms of offense, West Virginia needs to find consistency in the passing game to effectively move the ball.
Garret Greene completed only 10 passes on 27 attempts for just 154 yards, throwing one interception against Oklahoma last week.
“Garret’s decision-making was poor, he was inaccurate, thought he settled down you know late in the second quarter,” Brown said of Greene’s performance last week.
The Mountaineers have had little struggle running the ball behind a gritty line but could be without star sophomore back CJ Donaldson as he will be a true game-time decision after suffering an injury in the third quarter vs the Sooners.
Should CJ be ruled out, fans can expect true freshman Jahiem White to get a lot of work. White rushed for 146 of West Virginia’s 336 rushing yards in a win against BYU earlier this month.
WVU will be honoring coach Don Nehlen and the senior class on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. EST and can be streamed on ESPN+.