#125 Kansas State University Wildcatsvs.#126 West Virginia University Mountaineers
Written by Chris Kubala
NCAAF: Saturday, October 1, 2016, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, West Virginia, 3:30 pm ET
Line: West Virginia -3.5; Over/Under: 54
It’s a Big 12 matchup as the Kansas State Wildcats are on the road against the West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday afternoon. Kansas State won their second straight with a 35-0 whipping of Missouri State last week. West Virginia remained unbeaten after holding off BYU 35-32 in a game played at FedEx Field last week. This is the seventh all-time meeting between the teams. Kansas State holds a 5-1 edge and won the last five meetings. That includes a 24-23 win at home last season in the most recent matchup.
Kansas State rolled to the win over Missouri State in a game that was called at halftime due to lightning. The Wildcats held a 270-54 edge in total yards and a 13-4 advantage in first downs. Kansas State forced the only two turnovers in the game. The Wildcats averaged 7.5 yards per carry on the ground and held Missouri State to 18 yards on 17 carries. Kansas State’s defense limited Missouri State to 24 yards passing in the game and just two yards per pass attempt.
The Wildcats have had offensive struggles at times this season. Kansas State is 110th in the nation in passing offense (169 ypg) and 46th in rushing with 197.7 yards per game. The Wildcats average 37 points a game and allow 11 points per game. Jesse Ertz is the starter under center. He is 31 of 55 for 418 yards with four touchdowns and one pick. He leads the team with 145 rushing yards and a score. Joe Hubener (8 of 12, 79 yards, INT) and Alex Delton (3 of 5, 12 yards) are next in line. Charles Jones is the lead back in the ground game with 21 carries for 106 yards and a score. Dalvin Warmack (11 carries, 96 yards) is next in line. In the passing game, Dominique Heath has a team leading eight catches for 114 yards plus two scores.
West Virginia took all that BYU threw at them and survived to remain unbeaten. The Mountaineers look to win their conference opener here. West Virginia was outgained 521-481 in the game and was edged 27-26 in first downs. The Mountaineers did their damage in the turnover battle, forcing four Cougars turnovers while committing only two. West Virginia converted those takeaways into 14 points, including a pick six that likely was the difference in the game. The Mountaineers’ last takeaway came with a minute to play when Maurice Fleming picked off a Taysom Hill pass at the goal line.
The Mountaineers are rolling up the yards offensively this season. West Virginia is 18th in the nation in passing with 324.7 yards per game and 42nd in rushing with 208.3 yards per game. The Mountaineers average 33 points per contest. Skyler Howard is 74 of 108 passing for 974 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. He adds 112 yards and a score on the ground. Justin Crawford has a team leading 227 yards and a score on 42 carries. Rushel Shell contributes 209 yards and three scores on 43 carries. Daikiel Shorts leads West Virginia with 19 grabs for 346 yards and two scores. Shelton Gibson (16 catches, team high 354 yards, two TD) and Ka’Raun White (11 receptions, 159 yards, TD) are solid targets. Mike Molina hit all 12 extra points and five of six field goals with a long of 33.
The Wildcats haven’t faced much in the way of competition in their two wins, rolling Florida Atlantic and Missouri State. Kansas State lost their one matchup against a Power Five school when they lost the opener to Stanford. West Virginia has a prolific offense to work with Howard running the show. Kansas State doesn’t have the weapons to hang in, especially on the road. The Mountaineers take the conference opener in this one.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.