Kansas State has the better record 6-0 to 5-1, and the higher national ranking with the Wildcats at No. 4/3 to the Mountaineers No. 17/15 national billing.
And, the experts in Las Vegas have put that lower ranked West Virginia team as a three-point favorite.
Being the underdog didn’t faze KSU quarterback Collin Klein one bit: “It’s going to be a battle. We know that we are going to get their best shot.”
So is there any way for the Wildcats to improve to 7-0?
Here are seven reasons why it can happen.
1) As good as West Virginia is in scoring the ball, their woeful defensive numbers are even more astonishing than those on defense. In three Big 12 games – Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech – the Mountaineers have allowed an amazing 22 touchdowns in 12 quarters. They have proven to be equally inept against the run (141 yards and 9 touchdowns allowed) and the pas (453 yards and 12 touchdowns). West Virginia is giving up 52.3 points per game on 593.3 yards per game. A-mazing.
2) The best defense against an offense like West Virginia’s – 44.0 points and 558 yards per game in Big 12 play – is to keep Geno Smith and his friends off the field. K-State has kept the ball an average of 32:55 minutes per game. It’s a good bet that Bill Snyder’s gang will be shooting for 36 or 37 minutes of possession time against the Mountaineers.
On the importance of time of possession, coach Bill Snyder said, “If you keep them out of the endzone it’s a positive thing. But if they are scoring a mile a minute, which they can do, it doesn’t make any difference. We have to find a way to keep them out of the endzone.”
3) Kansas State’s defense has forced nine turnovers – four fumbles and five interceptions – and has a Big 12-leading plus-eight when it comes to turnover margin. West Virginia will counter with only a plus-two with two fumble recoveries and two interceptions in league play. The Wildcats have only given the ball away one time in conference action. The Wildcats have fumbled the ball on offense just one time in 195 rushes (and once in the kicking game) and Collin Klein has just two interceptions in 118 attempts.
4) The Wildcats have shown the ability to disrupt the quarterback with hurries, plus six sacks in three league games. Continuing that ability of making Smith make plays on the run certainly could lead to Smith’s first interception on the year in 259 passing attempts.
5) Playing on the road normally doesn’t faze a Bill Snyder-coached football team. The ‘Cats are already 2-0 this year with wins in Norman, Okla., and Ames, Iowa, and last year went 4-1 winning games at Miami, Texas Tech, Kansas and Texas.
6) The Wildcats lead in all of those ‘other’ categories that determine winners from losers:
PUNTING: KSU averages 40.0 yards and WV 37.5 yards
FIELD GOAL: KSU is 7-of-8 and WV is 3-of-5
PENALTIES: KSU has 18 penalties for 22.2 yards per game and WV has 27 for 43 yards per game
KICKOFF RETURNS: KSU averages25.6 yards and WV 20.3 yards
PUNT RETURNS: KSU averages 29.7 yards and WV averages 4.8 yards
3rd DOWNS: KSU converts 52 percent and WV converts 50 percent
7) Ironically, in Big 12 Conference games through the first three weeks of the season, the home team has just won four times in 14 games. Yup, the home team is just 4-10.