The West Virginia Mountaineer Football team will take on the Kansas State Wildcats this Saturday. Both teams are badly in need of a Big 12 conference victory.
West Virginia (3-4, 1-3) remains three wins shy of becoming bowl-eligible, meanwhile Kansas State is (2-4, 0-3) on the season. This game will have big bowl bid implications riding on it.
Kansas State comes into the game as roughly a 10-point favorite to beat the Mountaineers at home. West Virginia has played poorly on the road all season long, they have yet to win a road game.
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder has gone 268-172-1 in 22 seasons at K-State. His first squad struggled to a 1-10 record and the Wildcats didn’t go bowling until Snyder’s fifth season.
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen has the program below .500 for the first time since early in the 2008 season. The Mountaineers have lost 10 of their last 15 games.
Kansas State’s run defense has improved throughout the season. The Wildcats allowed 227 rushing yards to Texas and even 215 to North Dakota State, but just 85 to Oklahoma and 109 to Baylor.
West Virginia hasn’t been able to defend the pass (ranked No. 79 nationally in pass efficiency defense) or the run (No. 97, allowing an average of 196 rushing yards).
West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett will be going against a Wildcat defense that’s allowing 224.3 yards per game through the air. It’s No. 74 nationally in pass efficiency defense, while WVU is No. 56 in pass offense, averaging 246.6 yards.
Look for West Virginia to try and exploit the Kansas State pass defense. On the bright side, the Mountaineers did run the ball well against Texas Tech last week, so only time will tell if they’re getting closer to becoming a balanced attack.
Kansas State certainly seems to be a better squad than their (2-4) record would lead some to believe. First they lost to North Dakota State. Then they lost very close games against Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
West Virginia has played four teams ranked 17th or higher already this season, and has taken on three consecutive opponents that are among the nation’s best in Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas Tech. They have also lost at Oklahoma to open Big 12 conference play.
As far as the all-time series between these teams is concerned, the Wildcats own a 2-1 advantage over West Virginia after crushing the Mountaineers last season in a 55-14 final in Morgantown. The only win for WVU was a 23-7 final way back in 1930.
Defensively, the Mountaineers struggled to get pressure at the line of scrimmage against Texas Tech, coming up with only two tackles for a loss and no sacks. That is part of the reason why Red Raider freshman quarterback Davis Webb looked so calm and cool sitting back in the pocket all day long.
West Virginia has posted just nine sacks this season, three each coming from Brandon Golson and Will Clarke. Golson has 4.5 tackles for loss, he has produced four forced fumbles as well. Darwin Cook has been great at forcing turnovers with his team-best four interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Mountaineer quarterback Clint Trickett is only completing 48.8 percent of his attempts, which has led to three touchdowns and three interceptions.
West Virginia’s defense will have to watch out for Kansas State quarterback Daniel Sams, who ran for a career-high 199 yards, the second-highest total by a quarterback in KSU history against Baylor. Sams carried the ball 30 times and scored three touchdowns on the ground.
Sams now leads the team in rushing with 522 yards and seven touchdowns, but he only shows two touchdowns and four interceptions on 32 passing attempts.
Kansas State will most likely play two quarterbacks against WVU, with the other being Jake Waters. Waters shows four passing scores and five interceptions for an offense that is averaging 30.2 ppg.
Kansas State is very good on special teams, placing first in the country in punt returns with an average of close to 25 yards per opportunity.