West Virginia's defensive line has been relatively solid. Julian Miller, Jorge Wright, Bruce Irvin and Will Clarke have the Mountaineers 45th nationally against the rush, allowing but 116 yards. The problem is, LSU's four-man front, led by ends Sam Montgomery and Kendrick Adams, has been fantastic. The Tigers are third nationally against the run, allowing 47.7 yards.
LSU lost linebacker Joshua Johns in the same bar-fight incident as QB Jordan Jefferson. Ryan Baker, a Bednarik and Butkus awards candidate, and company have played well enough that the Tigers are sixth nationally in total defense. WVU's Najee Goode, however, might be the best linebacker in the game. He has 23 tackles. The senior could just use a little more support.
WVU received a little pick-me-up via safeties Darwin Cook, Terence Garvin and Eain Smith. They all had interceptions against Maryland. But LSU star Morris Claiborne, a cornerback, is heading a more effective bunch. The LSU secondary is 12th nationally in pass efficiency defense, while West Virginia's unit is 36th.
WVU wins this easily. Mountaineer return man Tavon Austin is fourth nationally in punt returns (22-yard average) and 16th nationally in kickoff returns (29.4). LSU kicker Drew Alleman is 10th nationally in field goals (6-of-7), but WVU's Tyler Bitancurt is sixth (7-of-8). LSU has been better at net punting, punt return defense and kickoff defense.