The BYU Cougars and the University of West Virginia Mountaineers will faceoff in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Saturday.

The kick-off will be at 5 p.m. Fans can watch the game live on Fox.

This will be the second time in history that BYU and West Virginia have met on the football field, with the Mountaineers defeating the Cougars 35-32 in 2016.

With this unfamiliarity in mind, here are four things for fans to know ahead of the showdown this weekend.

Moving on from last week

The Cougars will enter Saturday with a 5-3 record (2-3 in conference), following a 35-6 road defeat against the University of Texas Longhorns on Oct. 28.

“We are sitting now at 5-3, and looking back on it from where we are as a program we are still in a good spot,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake in his weekly press conference. “Not happy with the results last week. … I liked that the guys kept fighting. Really good team in Texas. We are trying to learn lessons from that and get better.”

The Mountaineers carry a 5-3 record (3-2 in conference) after defeating the University of Central Florida Knights on Oct. 28, by a score of 41-28.

“Good program win on Saturday,” said West Virginia head coach Neal Brown in his weekly press conference, “the two keys in the game were number one, points off turnovers 21 nothing, and then the starting field position was plus 18 in our favor. And both those are really team stats. Those were the two big indicators.”

Run game

West Virginia’s offense is led by their rushing attack.

Within the conference, the Mountaineers rank fifth in rushing yards per game, averaging over 203 yards per game. Last week, they rushed for 286 yards as a team and scored five rushing touchdowns, led by CJ Donaldson, who rushed for 121 yards and one touchdown.

“That was CJ, that’s the best he has played since Pittsburgh,” Brown said in his weekly press conference.

Defensively, the Cougars rank sixth in the Big 12 in run defense, allowing an average of 154.5 rushing yards per game.

“I like the way their running back runs,” Sitake said. “He’s dangerous.”

For the Cougars, their rushing attack is ranked last in the Big 12, averaging 81.3 yards per game and 2.9 yards per attempt. Last week, BYU rushed for 95 yards on 26 attempts.

“As far as the run game goes, I feel like we are making some strides in that matter,” said BYU running back Aidan Robbins. “Our rushing totals have been increasing every week since week one and we have been working hard at it in practice. The coaches have definitely put a strong emphasis on our run game and how to further develop that. The more we continue to work hard and practice at it and execute on the field, the better results we’ll see.”

The Mountaineers’ run defense ranks eighth in the Big 12, surrendering an average of 148 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry.

“The way that our defense is built, we got to maintain that edge and it’s got to be a hard edge,” Brown said. “We got to set that edge and we are not doing a good enough job.”


Turnovers have been a hallmark of the BYU defense this season.

Nationally, the Cougars rank third in the FBS with 18 takeaways. BYU forced two turnovers last week, against a Texas offense that had turned the ball over seven times all season.

“I think (the key to being a successful defense is) just being locked in on our assignments and trying to execute the play that is called,” said Cougars cornerback Kamden Garrett. “We have a turnover circuit every week, so we continue to work on it, and when the opportunity presents itself, we try our best to make the play.”

West Virginia ranks 52 in the FBS with a 1 turnover margin, and their defense has 11 takeaways on the season, four of which came last week.

“I can make a strong argument that we forced all of the turnovers (last week),” Brown said.

True road environment

For BYU, this will be their longest road trip of the season.

“It is a long trip,” Garrett said. “… Our coaches tell us, ‘The hay is never in the barn,’ so when you go on the plane, you can continue to watch film. On the bus, we can continue to watch film and study the playbook. For a long road trip like this, it’s just extra time for us to watch film and go over personnel.”

This will also be BYU’s first trip to Morgantown after the two teams met at a neutral site in 2016.

“We’ve got to embrace the opportunity on the road,” Sitake said. “Their fan base loves their team and it’s a tough place to play. I like fans that care about their team and are passionate. ‘Country Roads, Take Me Home,’ that’s a cool song. There are a lot of cool things about college football, and I’m glad that we get to go and be in that environment. Looking for a chance to come home with a victory. Hoping to have it work out on our side.”

Despite the long distance, fans can still expect to hear noise from the stands while West Virginia is on offense.

“BYU is a national brand,” Brown said. “I think that this is the only time that they are playing on the East Coast this season, and so, I think there’s a ton of juice there. There is a ton of members of the Church that are on the East Coast and I think they will be well represented.”