Could it happen? Probably not. But IF the unthinkable happens and Duquesne actually beats WVU, it’s because the Dukes did one thing very well throughout the game.
Oddsmakers are guaranteeing a Mountaineers victory. West Virginia has never lost to an FCS school. WVU is 23-0 all-time, and even 4-0 under Neal Brown. Duquesne has only one win against an FBS program, but has never beat a program out of a major conference. Does something have to give? Again, probably not. But there’s one clear path for the Dukes to pull off a win that they wold no doubt be celebrate forever.
Throw deep, deep, deep. And do it often, often, often. While there were some signs of the Mountaineers could be improved from last year in their loss to Penn State (less missed tackles, turnovers didn’t trigger loss etc), there was one aspect of the team that actually looked worse.
WVU coaches told us all off-season how the secondary would be better. They said it was deeper. They said Aubrey Burks was a different guy now and could play himself into the NFL. Beanie Bishop expressed his desire to have a big season to end his college career. Jacolby Spells was discussed as having cleaned up mistakes and poised for a breakout year.
Now it’s still possible all of thins could happen. It’s possible that Penn State is as good as advertised and could end up in the College Football Playoff. It’s possible the West Virginia secondary could be fine the rest of the season, especially against a lower level opponent like Duquesne. In fact, the latter should happen. But Duquesne’s only hope is to test that theory out and give us an answer very quickly.
And Duquesne actually has the quarterback to make this happen. It’s possible we could watch the WVU secondary have their hands full throughout another Saturday night. The players mentioned above better be ready. Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown even alluded to this when asked what Duquesne does well and he needs to account for during his weekly press conference on Monday.
“Offensively, the quarterback threw the deep ball really well,” said Brown. The quarterback he’s referring to is Darius Perrantes. The junior out of Los Angeles, CA doesn’t always throw tons, mostly because games against the Dukes normal opponents don’t call for it. For example, he only attempted 13 passes, granted for 135 yards, in their win over Edinboro.
When the Dukes are at their best and clicking on offense, they are running all over the field. And running is what led to their dominating week 1 performance. Taj Butts rushed for 104 yards. Jamario Clements ran for 47 and Edward Robinson III added 43. Obviously if that happens again, Duquesne had another good day, but running with that much success while facing an FBS team is far less likely.
Perrantes has showed he does have an arm. He threw for 1,620 yards in only eight starts in 2021. The opportunity for Duquesne to shock the world is to try to strike big, and to try to do it early.
Duquesne should throw up a deep ball or two on their first possession. It might even be something the WVU staff is expecting, and maybe wouldn’t mind seeing. Let all of us truly find out what the West Virginia secondary is really made of.
It’s very possible that even if Duquesne opens up their passing game and West Virginia still ends up being exposed as the season progresses, the Mountaineers will still comfortably secure a win over the Dukes.
The WVU football program has four wins over FCS teams with Brown as head coach. Those wins came over James Madison 20-13 (2019), Eastern Kentucky 56-10 (2020), Long Island 66-0 (2021), and Towson 65-7 (2022). All of those schools had something they thought they could use to lead them to an upset too. FBS teams are just usually too much for an FCS to handle. Crazy historic upsets have happened. We all remember Appalachian State knocking off Michigan. But those are not common and historic for a reason.
The safe bet is West Virginia wins, and does so convincingly, something they honestly need to do to send some type of message that the program isn’t as down as some say. Anything is possible though, and there is a strategy that could work for Duquesne, a school only an hour and a half away from Morgantown, with players who will be very excited to play on Mountaineer Field.
Click here to read about Duquesne’s week 1 win.