MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — 10:29 a.m.: Fans are now trickling into Milan Puskar Stadium for the first time this season as WVU is set to take on Kansas at noon. There isn’t a cloud in the sky, but the temperature is trying to break into the 40s as it’s been in the 30s all morning. The athletic department is expecting 15,000 fans, including 2,000 students as the Mountaineers (2-1, 1-1 Big 12) face a hapless Jayhawks team (0-3, 0-2) that will be without head coach Les Miles. Miles decided to stay in Kansas after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. There is no word WVU’s most recent COVID tests on Friday, but no news is good news.
11:05 a.m.: The Pride of West Virginia is here, albeit in a smaller form. A pep band version is in attendance, sitting on northwest side of the stadium in the lower bowl. It is warming up, playing the sweet tunes of a college football Saturday.
11:19 a.m.: James Gmiter is still out after recovering from COVID-19, so Zach Frazier will get the starting nod at left guard. Brandon Yates will start over Junior Uzebu at left tackle for the second-straight game, while VanDarius Cowan is still out at bandit linebacker after suffering an injury three weeks ago at Oklahoma State. Expect some special teams changes, as well, specifically punter and kickoff.
11:43 a.m.: Fans are making their way in with 20 minutes to go before kickoff. The music is bumping and fans booed Kansas as the team went into the locker room for a final time. Ah, normalcy.
11:55 a.m.: The Pride is doing the entire pregame from the stands, including Fight Mountaineers, Simple Gifts, the alma mater, national anthem, Country Roads and Hail West Virginia. Literal music to my ears.
12:06 p.m.: And we’re off, WVU receives the opening kick and will start at its own 33-yard line.
12:08 p.m.: T.J. Simmons with a drive to forget. Drops what would have a been a big play on first down, then makes a catch on third and long but fumbles, recovered by Kansas at the WVU 41.
12:17 p.m.: The Jayhawks get a field goal off Simmons’ fumble to take a 3-0 lead. It’s early but this is a big upcoming drive for WVU’s offense. Looked very bad on that first one.
12:22 p.m.: And the Mountaineers go 3 and out. Awful start offensively as KU will start at the WVU 45 for its second drive.
12:27 p.m.: Two plays, 45 yards, touchdown Kansas. Nicktroy Fortune tries to grab an interception but it deflects off his hands and into the waiting arms of Andrew Parchment for a long score. This is danger time for the Mountaineers.
12:34 p.m.: Another punt for WVU as WVU has runs of -5, -3 and -5 through three drives. The Mountaineers also have two drops that would have been first downs.
12:36 p.m.: Finally given decent field position, the WVU defense forces a punt. A nice Alec Sinkfield return sets the offense up great, but a personal foul blocking out of bounds call puts the ball back to the WVU 41.
12:42 p.m.: Jarret Doege has been getting hit all day, but when he finally gets rid of the ball early, he hits Bryce Ford-Wheaton for a 33-yard touchdown for the Mountaineers’ first score of the game. KU still leads 10-7.
12:47 p.m.: An awful pass into quadruple coverage is intercepted by WVU’s Alonzo Addae and the Mountaineers will take over at the KU 30.
12:50 p.m.: WVU does nothing with the pick, but Kansas will need to go 99 yards after Winston Wright downs the punt at the 1-yard line.
12:57 p.m.: The end of the first quarter comes as KU leads 10-7.
1:04 p.m.: Leddie Brown starting to run hard, breaking tackles and running angry at WVU has the ball to its own 45 after starting at the 20.
1:12 p.m.: Evan Staley misses a 44-yard field goal and KU still leads 10-7. So many missed opportunities for the Mountaineers and penalties continue to be a huge problem.
1:25 p.m.: Kansas’ Denzel Feaster was just tossed for targeting with a late hit on Leddie Brown. He gone.
1:32 p.m.: Leddie Brown absolutely dominated that drive, capped off with a 5-yard touchdown toss from Doege to Brown as the Mountaineers take their first lead of the day, 14-10.
1:38 p.m.: Darius Stills just made a diving interception and I’ve never seen a defensive lineman make a play like that before.
1:55 p.m.: Kansas had some really bad clock management on its last drive, giving WVU the ball back with 1:25 left, and the Mountaineers tack on a field goal with a 33-yard kick from Evan Staley. WVU leads 17-10 with 16 seconds left in the half.
1:57 p.m.: An ugly first half for all involved, but WVU leads Kansas 17-10 at the break.
2:22 p.m.: Kansas punts on the first possession of the second half. WVU will take over at its own 30-yard line looking to gain some offensive momentum.
2:26 p.m.: Jarret Doege just threw the ball right into the arms of a Kansas defensive lineman for an interception. That was his first really bad decision of the day.
2:40 p.m.: The Mountaineers’ offense still looks lost as KU takes over at its own 24.
2:50 p.m.: Kansas’ defense completely sold out to stop WVU on a 3rd and 1 and it backfired as Leddie Brown goes 87 yards for a touchdown to give the Mountaineers a 24-10 lead.
2:54 p.m.: Akheem Mesidor responds with two sacks for WVU and the Mountaineers defense forces yet another punt. This has been a very impressive defensive effort so far today.
2:57 p.m.: We are headed to the fourth quarter and the Mountaineers look primed to put this on ice with the ball at the KU 8, looking to go up three scores. WVU leads 24-10.
3:01 p.m.: Great play design there for Sam James as WVU scores to go up three scores 31-10. Confidence-building type play there by Neal Brown for James as Doege fakes right, throws back left to a wide open James.
3:27 p.m.: Alec Sinkfield puts an exclamation point on this one with a 3-yard score to put WVU up 38-10 with 2:00 to go. This one is all but over.
3:32 p.m.: Kansas returns the kickoff for a touchdown. Ho-hum.