Who: LSU Tigers
When: 8:00 pm, Saturday September 24
Where: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown WV
What to Watch For When The ‘Eers Have the Ball: Geno Smith. This game is on his shoulders. Simply put, the Mountaineers don't stand a chance unless Geno plays a great game. This is true for almost every Mountaineer, but absolutely crucial for Geno. He's going to have to stay upright in the face of a fearsome pass rush and make good decisions with the ball. In this game, the best decision may simply be to throw the ball away and fight another down. He can't take sacks, and he really can't throw picks. Luckily for Mountaineer fans, Geno has looked great over the last two games, so he may just be up for the task.
What to Watch For When The Tigers Have the Ball: The action in the trenches will dictate this one. West Virginia will have much more success if they force Jarrett Lee into passing situations. Unfortunately, to do that they're going to need to stop the run, and this hasn't exactly been their strong suit so far this season. If LSU can effectively run the ball between the tackles they can stay in short yardage situations and pound the weak center of the Mountaineer defense all night long. Watch the LSU offensive line. If they're driving the Mountaineers three yards deep on every play, it's going to be a long night.
The Mountaineers Will Roll If: Honestly, the answer to this one is, "if they do everything right". The Mountaineers don't have to play a perfect game to win, but they need to be close. Winning the turnover battle is going to be absolutely crucial. They need to force the Tigers into giving up the football a couple times, and they need to protect the ball dearly on offense. If the Mountaineers play a steady, mistake free football game, they've got a shot to get the victory.
The Mountaineers Will Have Trouble If: They make mistakes. This goes hand in hand with the entry above. WVU is simply not good enough to beat LSU while playing a mistake-filled game. It's not going to happen. LSU doesn't pile on the points, but if the Mountaineers spot them extra possessions, things could turn ugly quick. Stopping the run is key, and getting off the field on third down will be essential to Mountaineer success. If the Mountaineers give up long drives and end their own with turnovers, there won't be much joy in Morgantown on Saturday night.
Thing That Makes My Blood Boil: Conference re-alignment. It bothers me because it has taken the spotlight away from what is arguably the biggest football game in Morgantown in eight seasons. I'm in the minority amongst Mountaineer fans, in that I think the conference re-alignment is no big deal. What's going to happen is going to happen, and WVU will be fine. Top-tier football and basketball programs make WVU an attractive program for almost any conference. WVU will land on its feet. It disappoints me that a week that should have been full of pageantry and excitement has been filled with a lot of tense hand-wringing among the fanbase. It's cool, people -things will turn out fine. Trust me. Until then, soak up the attention you're getting. This Saturday, Morgantown West Virignia is the center of the college football world. It doesn't happen too often, so enjoy it while it lasts.