Game Preview: WVU vs. Kansas State
Series: Tied 1-1
Last meeting: 1931: WVU 0, KSU 19 F
Television: 7 p.m., FOX (Gus Johnson - play-by-play, Charles Davis - analyst, Julie Alexandria- sideline)
Line: - 3 West Virginia
Coming off its first loss of the season No. 15/17 West Virginia (5-1, 2-1) must put last week behind them because No. 3/4 Kansas State (6-0, 3-0) is coming to town this weekend for a primetime Big 12 Conference matchup.
The Wildcats remain the only undefeated team in the league and have already won conference road games at Oklahoma and last week at Iowa State 27-21. Kansas State is led by head coach Bill Snyder, who's amassed a career record of 165-83-1 over his 20-year career, including a conference mark of 92-64-1.
This will be the third meeting between the two teams, but the first since 1931, a 19-0 victory for Kansas State and will serve as the first matchup between the head coaches. However, the two have squared off when Dana Holgorsen served as the offensive coordinator of Oklahoma State in 2010 in a 24-14 victory for the Cowboys in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Wildcats take the traits of their head coach and are an extremely disciplined team that doesn't make many mistakes on either side of the ball. Kansas State is one of the least penalized teams in the country and also has done a great job avoiding turnovers.
Offensively the Wildcats come and go with senior quarterback Collin Klein, who heads the spread option. Klein is a dual-threat option rushing for over 500 yards and 10 touchdowns, while throwing for another 1,074 and seven more scores. A big-strong armed athlete, Klein fits Snyder's scheme and is a patient runner.
The Kansas State offense is more traditional in the sense that it relies on moving the ball on the ground and staying ahead of the chains, unlike previous Big 12 matchups with Baylor and Texas Tech that were up-tempo spread offenses that threw the ball all over the field. In addition to Klein, running back John Hubert is a key cog in the Wildcats rushing attack accounting for over 600 yards and eight touchdowns.
Arthur Brown leads the experienced Kansas State defense and the senior linebacker has racked up 47 tackles so far this season. The group is especially good against the run, but also has been stingy against the pass this season, now allowing more than 21-points against any offense they've faced.
The game is set for 7 p.m.
West Virginia Depth Chart:
QB - 12 Geno Smith, 14 Paul Millard, 7 Ford Childress
RB (A) - 20 Shawne Alston, 13 Andrew Buie, 29 Dustin Garrison
FB (B) - 32 Ryan Clarke, 88 Cody Clay, 30 Donovan Miles
WR (X) - 3 Stedman Bailey, 5 Ivan McCartney
WR (Z) - 81 J.D. Woods, 80 Ryan Nehlen
IR (H) - 10 Jordan Thompson, 15 Dante Campbell
IR (Y) - 1 Tavon Austin, 2 Travares Copeland
LT - 67 Quinton Spain, 79 Nick Kindler
LG - 77 Josh Jenkins, 67 Quinton Spain
C - 74 Joe Madsen, 60 John Bassler
RG - 57 Jeff Braun, Pat Eger
RT - 76 Pat Eger, 62 Curtis Feigt
DT - 99 Jorge Wright, 45 Eric Kinsey
NT - 90 Shaq Rowell, 95 Christian Brown
DE - 98 Will Clarke, 93 Kyle Rose
BUCK - 4 Josh Francis, 36 Shaq Petteway, 53 Tyler Anderson, 59 Chidoziem Ezemma
STAR - 28 Terence Garvin, 37 Wes Tonkery
WILL - 47 Doug Rigg, 56 Jewone Snow
SAM - 31 Isaiah Bruce, 56 Jewone Snow, 33 Jared Barber
FCB - 23 Brodrick Jenkins, 15 Ricky Rumph, 24 Cecil Level
FS - 8 Karl Joseph, 34 Ishmael Banks
BS - 25 Darwin Cook, 9 KJ Dillon
BCB - 6 Pat Miller, 7 Nana Kyeremeh
PK - 40 Tyler Bitancurt
P - 44 Corey Smith
KO - 44 Corey Smith
LS -87 John DePalma, 86 Jerry Cooper
H - 48 Michael Molinari
PR - 1 Tavon Austin, 10 Jordan Thompson
KR - 1 Tavon Austin, 3 Stedman Bailey
Eleven true freshmen saw action in one of the first two games this season: DL Christian Brown, WR Travares Copeland, LS John DePalma, S K.J. Dillon, DL Korey Harris, LB Garrett Hope, S Karl Joseph, DL Eric Kinsey, CB Nana Kyeremeh, CB Ricky Rumph and WR Jordan Thompson. In all 21 first-time players saw action with LB Isaiah Bruce, WR Dante Campbell, FB Cody Clay, LS Jerry Cooper, LB Dozie Ezemma, OL Russell Haughton-James, OL Brandon Jackson, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, WR K.J. Myers, DL Kyle Rose and CB Ishmail Showell.
Six Mountaineers have earned their first career start this season: Tyler Anderson (BUCK), Isaiah Bruce (LB), Cody Clay (FB), Karl Joseph (FS), Shaq Rowell (DL) and Jordan Thompson (WR).
Shaq Petteway is now listed as the backup BUCK after spending time at WILL.
Injuries: West Virginia will be without starting cornerback Brodrick Jenkins, who's recovering from a slight cartilage tear. His spot will be up for grabs after an open competition. Starting running back Shawne Alston continues to remain day-to-day with a nagging thigh bruise.
Points to click:
Stop the run. It goes without saying, but the Wildcats offense is predicated on being able to run the football effectively and move the chains. The Mountaineers will face their biggest test to date on the ground, but stopping the run has been one of the major bright spots of the defense thus far. If West Virginia is able to win in the trenches it can force Collin Klein out of his comfort zone and make them throw the football down the field, something that isn't a strength for the Wildcats. The Mountaineers must keep the Wildcats behind the chains in order to keep their offense out of a rhythm and avoid them controlling the clock.
Get the offensive mojo back. Last week's performance against Texas Tech was one to forget, and honestly that's exactly what West Virginia needs to do moving forward. The offense needs to hit its stride early and get back on track after struggling for much of the game against the Red Raiders. This offense has focused on taking what the defense gives it and that must remain the case against a disciplined Kansas State squad.
Cutting out big plays. West Virginia has been one of the most generous teams in the country at this point of allowing plays of 20+ yards to its opponents and against a team that wants to play ball control, it's something the Mountaineers can't afford to do against the Wildcats. Kansas State has done a very good job of mixing the pass in with the run, often faking the run to go over top the coverage and when that does happen, the Mountaineers can't allow receivers to run free for plays down the field.
Coming home. After two trips consecutive trips to Texas, West Virginia returns home to play in the friendly confines of Mountaineer Field. With the matchup set as the first night game of the year, expect the crowd to be frenzied and the Mountaineers will need to feed off that energy early and get off to a good start to keep the crowd into the game.
Smart football. Three things you always hear to describe this Kansas State football team; smart, disciplined and tough. The Wildcats do not get penalized many times a game and also avoid turning the ball over and West Virginia must do the same. This is a team that doesn't make mistakes and knows how to capitalize on teams that do.
Run the football. In order to keep defense's guessing the Mountaineers must get a better effort running the football. That will be a task this week against a very talented front seven for Kansas State that includes senior linebacker Arthur Brown. If the Mountaineers are able to establish a run game, it could allow them to do a lot more offensively, so it will be one of the keys to keep an eye on during the game.