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Three keys for WVU vs. Iowa State

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Jim Cowsert/AP

WEST VIRGINIA vs. IOWA STATE

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It's gameday again in Touchdown City.

West Virginia hosts Iowa State in a 4 p.m. kickoff today at Milan Puskar Stadium. I'll have a recap up right after the final whistle. Fire away in the comments section and follow on Twitter at both @mountaineersPG and @stephenjnesbitt for more frequent updates through the game.


SCOUTING REPORT

Matchup: West Virginia (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) vs. Iowa State (2-9, 1-7 Big 12), 4 p.m. today, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.Va.

TV, Radio, Internet: Fox Sports 1, Mountaineer Sports Network, Sirius 117, XM 192.

West Virginia: For the first time since 1995, WVU failed to win back-to-back games in a season. … No starting QB has been named yet; both Clint Trickett and Paul Millard are available.

Iowa State: Cyclones are allowing 35.3 points per game (106th in Division I) and 225.1 rushing yards per game (111th). … ISU has lost seven of its last eight games dating back to Sept. 26.

Hidden stat: RB Charles Sims needs 54 yards to become the WVU’s first 1,000-yard since 2009.


THREE KEYS

 If at first you don't succeed, hand off again: RB Charles Sims is just 54 yards from the 1,000-yard rushing plateau that no WVU RB has hit since 2009, and I can all but guarantee he'll hit that mark today. The only question is how early it'll come. Iowa is brutal against the run, allowing 225.1 rushing yards per game this season. The Cyclones will stack the box like every other team has, but Sims should be able to get loose anyway. Coach Dana Holgorsen did note this week that Iowa State has had more trouble with running quarterbacks than with running backs, but with QBs Clint Trickett and Paul Millard, WVU won't be doing any QB draws or bootlegs. That leaves the load up to Sims, the team's best play-maker and most explosive rusher. Keep the ball in his hands and this one should have a familiar outcome for the Cyclones.

• Take care of the ball: Decided on this one just for posterity's sake. It was a year of give and take for West Virginia, who was involved in more turnovers (54 combined turnovers and takeaways) than any other team in the country. The 'Eers enter the season finale with a -2 turnover margin, which is neither good nor among the nation's worst. But considering that the defense has forced 26 turnovers (10th in D-I), you darn well better make that pay off. And WVU hasn't, by and large, committing 28 turnovers themselves. In a meaningless game, getting back to +0 would be pleasant consolation.

• Win one for the seniors: The 14-member WVU senior class has been asked more than its fair share of times this fall what legacy it wants to leave behind. C Pat Eger mentioned a few weeks back that this class won't be remembered for the Orange Bowl win, it'll be remembered for the way this season ends. Well, it won't end the way he (or any of them) hoped it would. No bowl game. A sub-.500 season. And just as many questions and concerns with the program today as there were at the dawn of the season. They'll be known as the class that broke the streak, but they can determine the final punctuation on their record. Going out with a win would ease the pain, if only until bowl games begin. There's nothing to play for today if not for the seniors — and that should be all the motivation the team needs to put the right foot forward.


Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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