Every week, the Iowa State Daily's Sam Stuve will deliver the good news for Iowa State football fans as "Good Cop" and Jack Shover will play devil's advocate as "Bad Cop."
This week, Stuve and Shover will dissect Iowa State's much-anticipated game against West Virginia.
The seven games between these two teams have been decided by two possessions or less, excluding the 2015 and 2016 games. However, I do not forsee that happening on Saturday.
Both teams come into Saturday's matchup with a 3-2 (1-1 Big 12) record. In terms of scoring, West Virginia has been one the worst teams in the Big 12, scoring 26.2 points per game and allowing 28.6 points per game, both of which rank ninth. West Virginia is a very disciplined team that commits the third-fewest penalties in the conference and have found a way to win close games (two of them).
Last week, the Mountaineers remained competitive with the then 11th ranked Texas Longhorns, only losing by 11.
West Virginia did this despite junior quarterback Austin Kendall throwing four interceptions.
The Mountaineers can not commit so many turnovers and expect to remain competitive with the Cyclones. The Cyclones should be able to force a couple of turnovers on Saturday.
On defense, the Mountaineers have struggled to stop the run, allowing 181.1 rushing yards a game which is seventh out of ten in the Big 12.
Rain is expected all morning up till an hour before kick-off, which could make the field conditions tough.
Iowa State should be able to take control up front on both sides of the ball.
The Cyclones will be able to establish the running game, which could to big plays through the air.
West Virginia's offense should able to produce a few scores but not enough to beat Iowa State.
I see Iowa State holding an 11-point lead at halftime but winning by 24 points.
Prediction: Iowa State 44, West Virginia 20.
On paper, West Virginia should be one of the weaker teams Iowa State plays in the Big 12 with the Mountaineers' ninth-ranked offense and defense.
The Mountaineers have scored an average of 26.2 points a game and have allowed their opponents to score on average, 28.8 points.
With that being said, the Mountaineers were within striking distance to knock off No. 11 Texas in Morgantown, West Virginia last weekend and only ended up losing by 11 points.
With the Mountaineers at home again, its not unrealistic for West Virginia to take down the Cyclones.
On offense, quarterback Austin Kendall has the fourth most passing yards and also the fourth best completion percentage in the conference.
Kendall’s biggest detraction in his game is the amount of turnovers he commits. In the Big 12, Kendall has the second most interceptions by any player with seven.
If Kendall can avoid turnovers, he has the capability to pick apart Iowa State’s defense.
On film, Kendall has a knack for being able to stand tall in the pocket, allow a play to develop and deliever a strike to a reciever running a route across the middle of the field. Iowa State has a strong pass defense, but Kendall has the patience to let plays develop and hit a wideout on short and intermediate routes.
Against the pass, West Virginia has two capable defensive backs in Keith Washington and Hakeem Bailey. Washington has six pass breakups and three interceptions while Bailey also has six pass breakups.
While Bailey and Washington could give the Cyclones fits in the back end of the defense, brothers Dante and Darius Stills, who both have four solo sacks, could thrive pass rushing against Iowa State’s offensive line.
With all those factors stacked against Iowa State, there is no way the Cyclones escape Morgantown with a win.
Prediction: West Virginia 27, Iowa State 20