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Austin Kendall at -350 Odds to Win West Virginia Starting Spot Over Jack Allison (+350) and Trey Lowe III (+550)

Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown
A transfer QB is almost certain to start Week 1 for the Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, but which one remains to be seen. Photo by Paula Cristina (flickr) [CC License].
  • As if it wasn’t already hard enough, Neal Brown’s first year in West Virginia comes with a quarterback battle
  • Like several other schools, a transfer is leading the pack
  • There’s no time for growing pains, with Missouri and NC State in the non-conference schedule

When the 2019 Heisman Trophy odds first hit the market, Austin Kendall was an option with reasonable odds, and frankly, it made sense. All signs pointed to him being the next Oklahoma quarterback, right after two Oklahoma quarterbacks won the award.

Then he transferred to West Virginia as Oklahoma (successfully) courted Jalen Hurts. The Heisman odds dropped significantly — a just reaction to his new environs and the uphill climb the Mountaineers will have in 2019.

Now, some books will let you bet against him to even win the starting job in Morgantown for the Mountaineers’ first game of the season against FCS team James Madison.

Who Will Be West Virginia’s Starting Quarterback vs James Madison?

West Virginia Quarterback *Odds to Win Starting QB Job for Week 1
Austin Kendall (Junior) -350
Jack Allison (Junior) +350
Trey Lowe III (Redshirt Freshman) +550

*Odds as of 08/01/19.

Given West Virginia’s win total for the 2019 college football season and the generally bleak nature of the roster, going for the future is not a bad play. That’s why it’s fair to keep the redshirt freshman in the mix with two juniors.

Lowe Man on the Totem Pole

Yes, redshirt freshman Trey Lowe III is at the bottom of this odds list — and fairly so, considering the experience his two competitors have. However, Lowe III is still a factor in this race.

He mostly got recruited by Group of 5 schools that value runners and throwers as quarterbacks before late offers from North Carolina and West Virginia sent him to the Power 5. Thanks to the new four-game redshirt rule, he did get the chance to play in the 2018 Camping World Bowl.


Plus, he’s got the versatile athleticism to also be an outfielder for West Virginia’s baseball team, which hosted a Regional for the first time in school history this past season.

There is justification for him being on this list, but he is also last on the list for good reason.

Transfer vs Transfer

Jack Allison came to West Virginia with good timing. After transferring from Miami and sitting out 2017, his 2018 was more busy than anticipated thanks to Will Grier skipping the Camping World Bowl. Granted, it wasn’t the best showing (17-for-35, 48.6 percent, 277 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception), and that doesn’t help him in the Brown offense.

Granted, Austin Kendall has no experience in the Brown offense and, frankly, has less-serious game experience than Allison does — his only action as a Sooner came at the end of blowouts — but Kendall comes as the highly-touted prospect. He was the Shrine Bowl MVP and an Elite 11 contestant who was hotly pursued by multiple SEC schools.

That doesn’t mean he is what the recruiting evaluators thought he would be, but there is something to be said for that kind of talent being on a practice field in Morgantown that is mostly void of it.

Oklahoma does not recruit quarterbacks who can’t run, and Kendall’s mobility should be an asset behind an offensive line that has a lot to replace. Whoever wins this battle needs to have a strong connection with T.J. Simmons, the wide receiver transferring in from Alabama who is likely to be one of the team’s best options.

Final Thoughts

Normally, when a quarterback like Kendall transfers to a rebuilding program like West Virginia, they would be presumed to win the starting job, fair or not. As spring wore on and reports followed, the margin between Kendall and Allison apparently narrowed — to the point that, earlier this week, sportsbooks had it as close as Kendall +100 and Allison +150.

Just a few days later, that line has disappeared and this much more clear-cut line is the next-best option. My thought is, as they often do in college football, the bookmakers know something. My idea is to get money in on Kendall at -350 before those odds get even shorter.

The pick: Austin Kendall (-350)

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