(13) Kansas State at West Virginia (-2.5, 58 o/u)
After getting blown out by the No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs two weeks ago, the Kansas State Wildcats (7-2, 5-2 Big 12) are back in action against the West Virginia Mountaineers this Thursday (7:00 p.m. Eastern) at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.
While their playoff hopes are shot, the Wildcats still take home the Big 12 crown and earn a spot in a good bowl game. The first step on that path is beating a dangerous West Virginia team on the road. (The Wildcats then finish the season with a picnic of a game at home against Kansas, followed by a crucible on the road at No. 6 Baylor.)
The game plan for K-State on defense will be to confuse West Virginia QB Clint Trickett, who has a Big 12-best 3,173 passing yards this season.
“I think Clint is throwing the ball awfully well,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “He is an accurate thrower. I think he got ingrained in the system consequently like [TCU’s Trevone] Boykin.”
Trickett has not been immune from making mistakes, though, especially of late. On the year, Trickett has 18 TD passes to just eight interceptions – a solid ratio. But, in his last two games (both losses, to TCU and Texas, respectively), the senior pivot has just one major and three picks.
Trickett’s counterpart, Jake Waters, has not put up the same yardage or touchdown numbers, but he has taken care of the ball well, throwing just four interceptions on the year. Waters’ game-management approach has kept Kansas State competitive nearly every week and allowed the Wildcats’ stifling defense to do what it does best: stifle.
Coach Snyder will likely lean less on Waters and more on the run-game against the Mountaineers. West Virginia is 33rd in the nation against the pass (203.7 yards per game), but just 86th against the run (181.1 yards per game).
West Virginia is a 2.5-point favorite at the moment, and the game total is at 58. Kansas State has won and covered in the last two meetings in the series.
(Photo credit: The US Army (flickr) “Wildcat Willie” [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo may appear cropped.)