Big 12 Previews

Kansas State vs. West Virginia: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Kansas State at West Virginia

Here is everything you need to know about the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Kansas State Wildcats in our West Virginia vs. Kansas State preview.

Game Info

11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas

TV: FS1

Radio: West Virginia: Mountaineer Sports Network; Kansas State: K-State Sports Network.

Records: West Virginia: 4-5 (2-4 in Big 12); Kansas State: 6-3 (3-3 in Big 12).

Ranking: West Virginia: None; Kansas State: None.

Last week: West Virginia: lost to Oklahoma State, 24-3; Kansas State: def. Kansas, 35-10.

Fun fact: The Wildcats have not beaten West Virginia since 2015.

 

Key players

West Virginia

RB Leddie Brown: I doubt Brown is the devil, even though he has 666 rushing yards going into this weekend’s game. But, Big 12 rush defenses may see him that way. With three games remaining a 1,000-yard season is in sight, and he already has 11 rushing touchdown in 2021. Throw in 25 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown, and you have one of the most versatile backs in the Big 12.  

QB Jarret Doege: The fifth-year player is closing in on his career high in passing yards. He already has 2,180 yards passing this season, with a career high of 2,660 yards in 2018. He’s hit 300 or more yards in passing in just two games this season, but the last one was a big one — his 370 passing yards and three touchdowns in the 38-31 win over Iowa State. He’s hoping to bounce back after last week’s 109-yard effort against Oklahoma State.

DL Dante Stills: With six sacks so far this season, he leads the Mountaineers in getting to the quarterback. In fact, he has more than one-third of their sack production. He’s even picked off a pass this season. As a senior, he’s looking at the opportunity to leap to the NFL next season, where he could be a solid mid-draft selection for a team looking for pass-rush help.

 

Kansas State

RB Deuce Vaughn: He has had 390 yards from scrimmage in his past two games, but his game against Kansas was in the ‘career-game’ category. Vaughn rushed for a career-high 162 yards, finished with 232 total yards — he also had 6 catches for 70 yards — and his rushing total was the most since Alex Barnes had 250 yards at Baylor in 2018. He also scored three rushing touchdowns, and his 80-yard touchdown run was a career-best. Vaughn continues to re-write the Wildcat record book. He Is the second player in school history to reach 2,000 career all-purpose yards prior to the end of his sophomore year, but he’s the quickest to do it by games with 17 (Tyler Lockett did it in 18 and Darren Sproles did it in 19. Vaughn is second nationally in career all-purpose yds per game at 132 yards.

WR/KR Malik Knowles: With a guy like Vaughn on the team, it’s easy to overlook Knowles. But opponents shouldn’t. He is No. 7 in FBS in kickoff return average at 31.2 yards and has returned kickoffs for touchdowns twice — once against Oklahoma and once against Oklahoma State. Knowles’ three kickoff returns for touchdowns for his career is fourth-best among current players. He also reminded everyone he’s a quality receiver with a 68-yard touchdown reception against Kansas last week. Knowles has 1,042 career receiving yards, making him the 33rd Wildcat to cross that threshold.

LB Daniel Green: Felix Anudike-Uzomah is getting all the headlines for his four-sack game against TCU (or was it six? Someone ask the NCAA about that). But Green is the Wildcats’ leading tackler with 57 tackles so far this season. He had 8 1/2 tackles for loss, one sack, two quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. The linebacker is in his third year on the field for the Wildcats and he’s making a play for All-Big 12 recognition.   

 

Key storylines

West Virginia

The Mountaineers have been uneven this season, and due to that they need two wins in their final three games to reach a bowl game. That 30-24 loss to Maryland in the season opener looms large. Plus, WVU had three-point losses to both Oklahoma and Texas Tech, games that could have gone either way for the Mountaineers. In other words, this team could already be bowl-eligible, if things had broken a bit differently. The win over Iowa State was their second straight before losing to Oklahoma State last weekend, and there’s a lot of that going around. K-State, Texas and Kansas are all winnable games down the stretch and the Mountaineers are capable of ‘counting to six.’

Kansas State

The Wildcats are on a three-game winning streak, have secured bowl eligibility and are one win away from a winning season for the first time since 2019. Head coach Chris Klieman wants that standard to be higher, though. And there’s a chance he can take the Wildcats higher these next three weeks. After the Mountaineers, the Wildcats have Baylor, which is ranked at the moment, and Texas in the finale. The Texas game is in Austin. There’s a chance the Wildcats could finish the season with nine wins, and while that likely isn’t enough to get them into the Big 12 title game, it is plenty for Klieman and his staff to recruit off of for the 2022 season. A win on Saturday would also be a little bit of revenge for the Wildcats, who were blistered by the Mountaineers a year ago, 37-10. QB Skylar Thompson has led the Wildcats to 22 wins in his 37 starts, which is as many as Ell Roberson, Collin Klein and Michael Bishop did during their tenures in Manhattan.

Prediction: Kansas State 37, West Virginia 27. Kansas State finally breaks the losing streak to WVU.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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