#KeysToTheGame: Breece Hall will put WVU’s defense to the test

Gold and Blue Nation

Tony Fields (left) celebrates with Nicktroy Fortune after an interception in the first quarter vs. KSU. (Photo by Ben Queen/USA Today Sports)

When the Mountaineers take the field in Ames, Iowa it will be their first game in three weeks, so they should be well rested, lets hope they’re not rusty. While they are 5-3, their final two games of the regular season will be their toughest challenges of the season.

Iowa State currently leads the Big 12 Conference at 7-1 and appear ticketed for the Big 12 title game. The Cyclone offense is led by the top runner in the league in Breece Hall, who has rushed for 1260 yards and 16 touchdowns in Big 12 action this season. In fact, he is the conference’s scoring leader with 102 points on the season. Slowing him down will be a key for the Mountaineer defense, and it’s very possible. In ISU’s win over Texas, the Longhorns held him to just 91 yards — though he did find the end zone once.

The ISU offense is the third-leading scoring unit in the Big 12 at 33.1 points per game guided by steady junior Brock Purdy at quarterback. Purdy is fifth overall in the conference having thrown for 2025 yards and 14 scores this season, and he’s 2-0 against the Mountaineers in his career. Pressuring him will be a key — the Cyclone O-Line has only allowed 10 sacks all season, which leads the Big 12.

The West Virginia defense is coming off of its most impressive performance of the season, holding TCU to only six points on a pair of field goals in their last time out two weeks ago. They continue to lead the league in scoring and overall defense, but they will be put to the test this weekend.

The extra rest most likely was helpful for Leddie Brown, who was questionable for the TCU game (even though he still ran for 156 yards). The Cyclone defense is second-best against the run, so success on the ground will go along way to a win.

Jarret Doege should be able to find some success through the air. Iowa State gave up 303 yards through the air — can Doege and company put up similar numbers?

One good note for the Mountaineers they are 5-3 all-time against ISU and 3-1 all-time in Ames, though we’d like to forget their last trip their in 2018 — a 30-14 upset.

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