The West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5) are going bowling against the Utah Utes (6-6) of the PAC 12.
They will face off in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on December 26 at 1:30.
Utah finished in fifth place in the PAC 12 South at 6-6, with a 3-6 conference record. The Utes won their last game of the season against the Colorado Buffaloes, 34-14, to reach the six win mark and become bowl eligible.
Utah is led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley on offense. Huntley on year has 2,246 passing yards on 65% completed passes to go along with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The offense as a whole averages 29.5 points per game, which is 58th in the nation.
Huntley has missed three games this season, including the finale, due to injury. That means backup Troy Williams had to step in and play. He is not quite the same QB as Huntley, throwing four interceptions and completing 10% fewer passes.
The Utes have a strong running game, however, with sophomore Zack Moss. Moss is over the 1,000 yard mark on the season and accounting for nine scores. In the last game against Colorado, Moss had a huge game, running the ball 26 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Utah could ride Moss to another big game against WVU as the Mountaineer run defense is sub- par.
On the outside, receiver Darren Carrington II will look to surpass 1,000 receiving yards. He has been a big part in Utah’s offense this year and will look to continue to find success against WVU.
Their defensive unit is pretty solid. They are the 32nd ranked defense in the country, allowing 353.8 yards per game. Utah held high powered offenses such as USC, Washington, Washington State, and Stanford to all under 30 points.
They will have their hands full with West Virginia.
Running backs Justin Crawford and Kennedy McKoy lead the charge on the ground, with Crawford being the feature back and racking up 1,060 yards. McKoy is a change of pace back, being a bit quicker than Crawford is. In WVU’s last game against the Oklahoma Sooners, McKoy was used out of the wildcat, taking some direct snaps, and it was a pleasant surprise from a blowout loss. Look for more wildcat to be run, especially if Will Grier cannot play.
Grier broke his finger against the Texas Longhorns and ultimately needed to have surgery on it. His status for the bowl game is still up in the air, but according to head coach Dana Holgorsen, Grier’s status is “not good.” Adding on that Grier is going back to the doctor next week to be evaluated.
If Grier cannot play, Chris Chugunov will get the start. He was thrown into a tough situation in the Texas game and had a tough task against Oklahoma the week after. The offense has struggled to really get anything going in the passing game with Chugunov as the QB, but that could change with multiple weeks of practice to prepare for Utah. With the slew of talented wide outs that West Virginia has- David Sills, Gary Jennings, and Ka’ Raun White- hopefully the passing game will come alive.
The game between the Utes and the Mountaineers should be a lower scoring game, with both teams having inconsistencies and question marks on the offensive side of the ball. Utah’s defense is stronger than WVU’s and that should be enough for them to get the win against a backup quarterback with limited gameplay.
Prediction: Utah 35, West Virginia 28