(4) Kansas State (6-0) at (17) West Virginia (5-1)|
Saturday, October 20, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Two of the Big 12 Conference's top teams square off in Morgantown
on Saturday night, as the 17th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers play host to
the fourth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats.
Kansas State has risen to No. 4 in the AP poll following a fantastic 6-0
start, which includes three conference wins over Oklahoma (24-19), Kansas
(56-16) and Iowa State (27-21). The Wildcats needed to rally from an early
deficit last week against the Cyclones, and head coach Bill Snyder was not
thrilled with the way his team performed.
"I'd like for us to have played better than we did across the board," Snyder
said following the game. "We had some issues. It was out of character for us
to be a highly penalized team and we were. That's not the right direction for
us to be going."
Now bowl eligible for the third straight season, the Wildcats debuted at No. 4
in the first BCS standings, ranking behind Alabama, Florida and Oregon.
Just a few weeks ago, it was the Mountaineers who were the fourth-ranked team
in the country following a 5-0 start, but they slipped all the way to No. 17
following a 49-14 loss at the hands of Texas Tech last week. It was their
first conference setback as a member of the Big 12, and it snapped their nine-
game winning streak dating back to last season.
Being newly-formed conference rivals, this marks only the third meeting
between these two programs with each school winning once, although they
haven't met since 1931.
The Kansas State offense has been clicking on all cylinders, scoring 40.8 ppg
while putting up 427.5 ypg. It has scored 50 points or more in three games
already, although it is coming off one of its most sluggish performance of the
year with a 27-point effort against Iowa State.
Quarterback Collin Klein is currently falling short of the pace he set during
his amazing 40-touchdown season a year ago, but he has still been solid this
year, passing for 1,074 yards, rushing for 510 yards, and accounting for 17
total scores. He has also improved his efficiency this season as he is on pace
to finish with a career-high in completion percentage (.669) and a career-low
in interceptions (two).
John Hubert makes up the other half of the dynamic rushing duo for the
Wildcats, carrying the ball 98 times for 606 yards and eight touchdowns, all
of which rank him in the top five in the conference.
No Wildcat receiver averages more than 50 yards per game. If K-State has such
a thing as a go-to guy in the passing game, it's Tramaine Thompson (17
catches, 283 yards, three TDs).
Even with the offense piling up huge point totals, the defense has remained
stout, allowing 16.5 ppg with a season-high of just 21 points allowed.
Ty Zimmerman is among the conference leaders in interceptions with three and
he also has a fumble recovery to his credit. Arthur Brown has a team-high 47
tackles, with four tackles for a loss and a sack.
West Virginia has an even more prolific offense than Kansas State, ranking in
the top 10 in the nation in both points per game (45.7) and yards per game
(543.7), and most of that production is due to the sensational play from its
If the season ended today, there'd be very little doubt that Geno Smith would
walk away with the Heisman Trophy. The signal-caller has put up astronomical
numbers, passing for 2,271 yards (378.5 ypg) while leading the country in
completion percentage (.753), touchdowns (25), QB rating (180.8), and fewest
interceptions (zero). As great as he's been, Smith is coming off his most
pedestrian game of the year in the loss to Texas Tech (29-of-55, 275 yards,
TD), and head coach Dana Holgorsen knows there was a lot that wasn't working
in that game.
"It probably started with our inability to run the ball," Holgorsen said of
the loss. "We didn't do a good job of finishing blocks early in the game. We
didn't make anybody miss at the running back spot. That wasn't the only
problem. We weren't able to throw the ball down the field when we had guys
open so it was a combination of a lot of things. We just never got into a
Andrew Buie has been an effective runner for WVU this year with 504 yards and
five touchdowns on 104 carries, but he only managed 71 yards on 21 carries
against Texas Tech.
Smith's fantastic season has certainly elevated the play of receivers Stedman
Bailey (55 receptions, 766 yards) and Tavon Austin (67 receptions, 761 yards,
eight TDs), who rank fourth and sixth in the country in receiving yards,
respectively. Bailey is also tops in the country in receiving touchdowns with
14, five more than any other player.
With a dominant offense has come a suspect defense however, as the team has
surrendered 37.3 ppg and nearly 500 ypg. The unit cannot get off the field on
third down either, allowing opponents to convert 51 percent of their third-
The defense has forced just 10 turnovers through six games, with Doug Rigg
accounting for two of those with an interception and fumble recovery. Isaiah
Bruce (57 tackles, five TFL) and Terence Garvin (six TFL, four sacks) are
other defensive standouts.
Returning home after a crushing defeat last week, West Virginia will be out to
prove that it is no early-season fluke, and Smith and company on offense will
be sure to do everything in their power to do so. On the other side of the
field, Klein and Hubert are just as capable of moving the ball up and down the
field, especially against a defense as porous as the Mountaineers'. It will
likely go down to the wire, but K-State will keep its national championship
hopes alive for at least one more week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 41, West Virginia 38
10/17 10:43:12 ET