WVU offensive linemen Jeff Berk and Geoff Lewis vs. Temple defensive lineman Dan Klecko
If Ken Sandor and Jason Brooks are still hobbled, WVU's pair of Jeffs (or Geoffs), will have to face off with one of the best defensive linemen in the conference.
Klecko, the son of former New York Jets' lineman Joe Klecko, is mobile and aggressive, and will be the toughest test to date for WVU's young offensive linemen. He has 54 tackles from his defensive line position, which is outstanding for an interior down lineman.
If Lewis and Berk can neutralize Klecko, Avon Cobourne will be on his way to another hundred yard day. If not, the Mountaineers might again be forced to move the ball through the air.
WVU running back Avon Cobourne vs. Temple linebackers J. D. Nichols and Akeiff Staples
With starting Owl linebacker Taylor Suman out, Cobourne figures to have more room to operate against a Temple defense that has been stingy against the run. The Owls have given up an average of only 3.5 yards per carry to opponents this season.
If Avon is able to make those linebackers miss on occasion and turn four yard gains into 20 yard scampers, the Mountaineer offense should be primed to roll.
Nichols and Staples must contain Cobourne inside the box and not let him get upfield if the Owls are to have the chance to spring an upset.
WVU Rover O'Randai Cox vs Temple's running game
We don't list a head to head matchup here for Cox, because he'll face a variety of blockers as the Owls attempt to run the ball.
We're more interested in how Cox handles his first significant playing time as he replaces Angel Estrada, who suffered a season-ending leg fracture against Syracuse.
Cox isn't quite as sturdy as Estrada, so his matchups with pulling guards, tackles and fullbacks will bear watching as Temple tries to get its abysmal ground game untracked. The Owls are averaging a miniscule 2.3 yards per carry this year.
We expect to see Cox get tested early and often on Sturday, and his repsonse will be a big factor as the Mountaineers attmept to duplicate last week's outstanding defensive performance.
THINGS TO WATCH:
Let's face it - this game is going to be a tough one to generate much enthusaism for. Aside from the diehards (which we're a part of), there won't be a whole lot of people in the stnads, and those that are there won't likely be too fired up.
WVU's pass defense which is giving up only 126 yards per game, is due for some more credit. That figure is tops in the NCAA, while the Mountianeers' 92.06 pass efficiency defense rating is sixth in the country.
While it's true that Mountaineer opponents haven't found the need to pass in some circumstances, the fact is that the Mountaineers have some talented players in the secondary.
Unsung Richard Bryant has been a key in the secondary's performance this year. He has shut down some excellent wide receivers, and simply hasn't been beaten very often this year.
Instead of watching the ball, devote a few plays to watching Bryant as he covers Owl wideouts. He will use a mix of pressing tactics and quick reactions to prevent completions or minimize gains. Bryant has also evolved into a sure tackler, which was one item missing in his repetoire from last season.