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WVU faces Army today in Liberty Bowl

Photo courtesy of Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports West Virginia linebacker Dylan Tonkery (10) leads his team onto the field prior to their game against Baylor earlier this season at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) –Count West Virginia coach Neal Brown among those wanting to see Army play a bowl game.

He will get the chance when his Mountaineers take on Army in the Liberty Bowl after the Black Knights were tapped as a COVID-19 replacement for Tennessee. Brown sees this as a big opportunity for West Virginia.

“It’s maybe going to be the most watched bowl game outside the national semifinals,” Brown said. “And I understand, and our kids understand, there probably won’t be a whole lot of people outside the state of West Virginia pulling for us. It’s going to be a fun afternoon.”

West Virginia (5-4) comes into today’s game in Memphis, Tennessee, as the 15th winningest program in college football with this the Mountaineers’ 38th bowl all-time. The Mountaineers haven’t played since a 42-6 loss at Iowa State on Dec. 5.

This is just the ninth bowl for Army (9-2) and fourth with coach Jeff Monken.

Army has gotten a lot of attention and support after nearly being left out of the bowl season when opt-outs left Independence Bowl officials with no opponent for the Black Knights, forcing a cancellation.

The Black Knights, who beat Air Force 10-7 for the Commander-in-Chief trophy Dec. 19, got their chance a day later after Tennessee returned several positive COVID-19 test results.

“Everybody making that push and saying these guys deserved to play probably just helped when a team wasn’t able to play that the Liberty Bowl stepped up and said that, ‘We’re going to take that team, they deserve it,'” Monken said. “We’re grateful for them.”

DEFENDING THE TRIPLE

OPTION

West Virginia had to switch gears quickly to start preparing for Army’s triple option offense, a rushing attack that is fourth nationally piling up 281.3 yards per game. The Mountaineers rank 24th defending the run, giving up 126.2 yards, and they’re led by All-American lineman Darius Stills.

Brown said he plans to stick with the Mountaineers’ base defense and schemes they’ve used all season. Stills said the key is being aggressive.

“Army’s a very disciplined team,” Stills said. “They come off the ball hard, low every single snap and they do not quit until the whistle’s blown.”

DEFEND US TOO

The Mountaineers come in with a pass-heavy offense led by Jarret Doege who completes nearly 25 passes per game, which is eighth-most in the country. He’s thrown for 2,428 yards with only three interceptions this season. He’s helped by running back Leddie Brown who averages 105 yards rushing a game.

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