Football, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU kicks off Big 12 slate at home against Texas Tech

MORGANTOWN — Texas Tech football coach Joey McGuire has a very favorable opinion of Morgantown.

“We’re excited to be starting Big 12 play and if we’re not at home, it’s great to be playing in such a great environment,” McGuire said of starting conference play this week at WVU (3:30 p.m./ESPN+). “West Virginia has a great stadium and the fans are incredible. It’s just a great environment for college football.”

McGuire has all the reasons in the world to like Morgantown. For one, his Red Raiders haven’t lost at Mountaineer Field since 2017.

“They’ve had our number,” said WVU coach Neal Brown, who has not beaten Texas Tech since joining WVU. “That’ll probably be the story this week — they’ve beat us four years in a row.”

In its current four-game winning streak, Texas Tech has outscored WVU 143-74, including a 48-10 beat-down in McGuire’s first season last year.

“They’ve beaten us handily twice,” Brown said. “I think the common thing is they’ve moved the ball on us pretty well and we haven’t been able to run the ball as well as we need to be able to run the ball to win football games versus those guys.”

In last year’s game, the Red Raiders racked up nearly 600 yards of offense, scored six touchdowns and caused four turnovers.

This year, Texas Tech (1-2) is looking to get back to .500 after dropping its first two games of the season to Wyoming and Oregon. WVU (2-1), meanwhile, wants to finish off a perfect three-game home stand to build some good early-season momentum. 

“This is the start of Big 12 play and this is our last game in a three-game home stretch,” Brown said. “We feel like if we can defend our home turf, then we’ve got a chance to have a really good year.”

Texas Tech is led by running back Tahj Brooks, who has 268 rushing yards and a touchdown so far this season. The Red Raiders also have a receiving trio of Jerand Bradley (211), Jordan Brown (124) and Myles Price (118), who all already have over 100 yards.

McGuire has used two quarterbacks so far with senior Tyler Shough and sophomore Behren Morton both seeing time.

“Both those kids are more than capable,” Brown said. “Both of them are quality Big 12 players so I don’t think their plan of attack really alters with whoever’s in the game.”

Shough has thrown for 743 yards and run for 137 with nine total touchdowns, but he has also already thrown four interceptions.

McGuire, too, will have to prepare for two quarterbacks as WVU starter Garrett Greene is questionable to play after injuring his ankle last week against Pitt.

Backup Nicco Marchiol threw for 60 yards and a touchdown in the 17-6 win and could be in line to make his first career start should Greene not be able to go.

“We’ve got to prepare for both guys and we will prepare for both guys,” McGuire said. “We’re lucky that they’re similar, but (Marchiol) did a good job coming into that Pitt game. That game in that area is as big of a game as there is and you could tell he can handled the pressure.”

Defensively, linebacker Jesiah Pierre leads TTU with 25 total tackles. Edge rusher Myles Cole has a pair of sacks and cornerback Malik Dunlap has two interceptions.

After drawing a sell-out crowd of 61,000 for the Backyard Brawl last week, Brown hopes the fans can again give the Mountaineers a home-field advantage.

“Our fans were critical last week and we need them,” Brown said. “We were picked last in the conference; this is the first opportunity for us to prove the so-called experts wrong. We get Tech and we get them here at home.”

“It’s an environment that’s going to be a lot of fun to play in if you’re a college football player or a fan,” McGuire added. “It’s going to be a hostile environment. You’re going to have to play well.”

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