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Kansas State vs. West Virginia: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Kansas State at West Virginia

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 match up in our Kansas State vs. West Virginia preview and prediction. 

Game info

November 16th, 2019, 2:30 p.m. CST, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas

TV: ESPN (Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Olivia Dekker)

Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, Stan Weber); Mountaineer Sports Network (Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace); Sirius 137, XM 200

Fun fact: The Wildcats are 5-4 all-time against the Mountaineers, however WVU has won three-straight games in this series overall. 

 

Key Players

West Virginia

Who’s at QB?

Austin Kendall is listed as the starter, but after Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege came in last week and played multiple series for the Mountaineers last week against Texas Tech, let’s see if head coach Neal Brown is already thinking about 2020 and gives Doege some more meaningful snaps in this game. Kendall has not progressed like many had hoped and his accuracy remains a problem, especially downfield. Doege went 11 of 17 for 119 yards with one touchdown vs. TTU’s back ups in a prevent defense. What could he do against one of the top defenses in the Big 12? I think we’re all curious to find out. 

Safety Sean Mahone

Mahone has quietly put together a nice junior season in which he’s starting to play a bigger role. Last week he had 15 tackles against Texas Tech, the most of any West Virginia player in a single game this season. The week prior vs. Baylor he finished with eight tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. He’s become an intrical part of a defense that had a poor showing to start last week against Tech, but has been one of the stronger parts of the team this season.

Kansas State

WR Malik Knowles

Now that he is healthy, Knowles is starting to play an even bigger role for the Wildcats. Last week he had three catches for 94 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown against Texas. Even when he’s not racking up stats, he’s provided a nice deep threat for the Wildcats who have been desperately lacking in that department in recent seasons. Now he goes up against a pass defense ranked last in the Big 12 in efficiency. 

CB Kevion McGee

McGee has replaced the injured A.J. Parker and played well against Texas finishing with nine tackles in just his second start of the season. There’s no doubt that whoever is at quarterback for West Virginia will try to challenge McGee downfield, so he better be prepared for what’s ti come his way on Saturday. 

 

Key Storylines

West Virginia

Can the Mountaineers get a semblance of a passing game going? They have no chance to run the ball. They’ve averaged a measly 76 rushing yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry and now go up against one of the best defenses in the Big 12 that is allowing 21.1 points per game, the second fewest in the Big 12, while WVU brings in the lowest scoring offense in the conference. If the Mountaineers want to hang on this one on the road, Kendall or Doege need to get it going through the passing game, ideally with a big play or two to get some momentum going in this game in a tough road environment against a very good Kansas State team. 

The Wildcats need to get their running game back on track. James Gilbert appears to be returning, as he’s listed as a starter. He was missed vs. Texas, as Kansas State only had 51 rushing yards to Texas’ 214. That’s not the kind of differential Chris Klieman wants to see in his games moving forward. The good news is that WVU is ranked 9th in the Big 12 against the run, so this might be an ideal time to get the ground game going. 

Prediction

Kansas State 31, West Virginia 17 

The Wildcats may be (essentially) out of the Big 12 race, but there is still plenty to play for as a quality bowl games awaits Kansas State if it finishes strong. Every facet of this game favors the Wildcats and I just can’t see how WVU can get the offense going to prevent its defense from wearing out, which has happened too many times this season and led to double-digit losses. I see another one coming on Saturday for the Mountaineers.

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