Shootouts in college football are by definition fun, fast-paced and back-and-forth games involving just a little bit of everything.
If that’s the case, consider the first half of West Virginia and BYU’s matchup as more of a slow developing shootout. The Mountaineers went to the locker room with a 21-13 lead and the score probably could have been a little worse had there been any urgency to their offensive drives, which were methodical and efficient outside of a Skyler Howard interception.
Howard did have 180 yards passing through two quarters however and was dinking and dunking down the field against a normally tough BYU defense. Tailback Rushel Shell didn’t have a great half with just 2.1 yards per carry but did punch it into the end zone twice for West Virginia.
The third score of the day for the Mountaineers came on defense. Rasul Douglas found himself at the right place, at the right time, when Taysom Hill was pressured into a bad throw. Douglas snagged the ball out of the air and returned it 55 yards for an impressive pick-six to get the gold-clad crowd into the game.
The Cougars were able to move the ball in the first half even if the points didn’t quite follow, averaging 6.5 yards per play thanks in part to Jaamal Williams’ 128 yards rushing over two quarters.
BYU would have closed the gap between them and West Virginia even more had they not bungled the final few seconds of the half. Instead of getting out of bounds, receiver Mitchell Juergens decided to cut up field and the team needed a review to get one second left put back on the clock in order to kick a field goal.
This is a big game for West Virginia to hold on to as they’re one of just two undefeated Big 12 teams left heading into Saturday’s slate of games and one of the few bright spots for the league so far this season. As for BYU, the Cougars would love to pull of an upset on the East Coast (the game is at FedEx Field outside Washington, D.C.) and show Big 12 leaders that they can be very competitive in the conference should they ultimately decide to expand.
Either way, should make for a fun second half between the two.