WVU To Open Big 12 Play

West Virginia running back Justin Crawford (25) runs for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia defeated East Carolina 56-20. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

LAWRENCE, Kan. — West Virginia senior offensive lineman Kyle Bosch has few memories of the last time he and his teammates took to the field at Memorial Stadium to face the homestanding Jayhawks from Kansas.

However, the ones that stick out the most from West Virginia’s 49-0 victory aren’t the most pleasant.

“The last trip to Lawrence, it was a noon game in late November, early November in the middle of Kansas,” Bosch said. “I am from Illinois and I am used to flat and cold and windy, but that was a whole different type of cold. The sun was so close it looked like you could touch it, but it was like negative-10, negative-15 with a wind chill and I had a 103-degree fever.

“I was dying the whole game and we get to the third quarter, we were up by quite a bit and I finally got pulled. I just buried myself in a jacket, a blanket on the sideline. It was terrible, I had like body aches for a like a week after that.”

Bosch and his teammates look to build a few more positive memories when the Mountaineers (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) take on a Kansas (1-2, 0-0 Big 12) squad looking to do something it hasn’t done in a long time — open the conference slate with a win.

“We’re excited about moving forward to our Big 12 schedule,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We know we have nine opponents ahead of us, so it doesn’t matter at what point you play who. It doesn’t really matter. This one happens to be in Lawrence against Kansas, so we’re excited about that. We have a lot of familiarity with not only Kansas, but all of the Big 12 going into the sixth year. There aren’t a whole lot of secrets out there when it comes to us playing them and there’s not a whole lot of secrets out there when it comes to them playing us. We know each other pretty well. I think all of our goals are to line up and play a good football game and put our guys in position to be successful and hopefully come out victorious.

“They’re 1-2. I know the last two games that they’ve lost have been really competitive, been close games that they just didn’t happen to win. I see a Kansas team that has improved over the last couple of years. I think Coach (David) Beaty is an outstanding football coach and has done a great job of building some excitement around their program with recruiting. He’s doing a really good job in getting some really good recruits in there and they do a great job with their staff. They have a lot of great coaches on their staff as well, so this will be a big challenge for us.”

Holgorsen and his players will be facing a KU team stinging from back-to-back losses to Mid-American Conference members Central Michigan (45-27) and Ohio University (42-30) and powered by an offense led by Washington State transfer Peyton Bender.

“Not (Bender), specifically,” Holgorsen said when asked if he had spoken with his former head coach about the KU signal caller. “The Mike Leach classic quarterback is a guy who sits in the pocket and throws it 90 times a game, capable of doing that. This kid is capable of doing that, that’s what he wants to do. He wants to stay in the pocket and he wants to throw that thing all over the place. So, that’s what we’ll prepare for.”

Bender has made quite an impression in his first three starts, connecting on 85 of 146 attempts for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns.

Of course the Jayhawks will have a few unknowns when they play host to a Mountaineer program which holds a 5-1 edge in the series between the two programs.

“(Grier) is impressive,” Beaty said. “He can make all of the throws and understands what Dana and Jake (Spavital) wants to do on offense. And, he has a lot of weapons around him to make that offense go.”

Weapons like senior running back Justin Crawford — the Big 12 rushing leader with an average of 108 yards per game — and wide receivers Gary Jennings Jr., David Sills V, Ka’Raun White and Marcus Simms.

“We will certainly have our hands full,” Beaty said. “But, that’s the way it is every weekend in the Big 12.”