Here is everything you need to know about the Big 12 showdown from Manhattan, Kansas between the Kansas State Wildcats and the West Virginia Mountaineers in our preview.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, 3:30 PM E.T., Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas
TV: ESPN2 | Anish Shroff (Play-by-play), Mike Golic Jr. (analyst), Roddy Jones (Field Analyst)
Radio: IMG Mountaineers Sports Network | Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace, Jed Drenning
Radio: K-State Sports Network | Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play) Stan Weber (Analyst) Matt Walters (Sidelines)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 83, XM 83
Fun facts: Bill Snyder teams love November. Under Snyder, K-State is 60-27-1 in the month of November, including a 19-11 mark in his second tenure. Since 2009, K-State has had ﬁve winning records in the month.
West Virginia Mountaineers
QB Will Grier
Will Grier is ranked No. 2 nationally in passing touchdowns, No. 4 in points responsible for per game and passing yards per game, No. 5 in total offense, No. 8 in passing efficiency and yards per pass attempt, No. 11 in completions per game and No. 15 in passing yards per completion. Now, he gets the worst pass defense in the Big 12? Sign me up.
LB Al-Rasheed Benton
Benton is quietly having himself a first-team All-Big 12 type of season. He’s fifth in the Big 12 with 8.6 tackles per game, and is T-4 in the conference with 12 tackles for loss. Throw in 2.5 sacks and 2 interceptions and it’s turning into a helluva season for the senior linebacker. We know Kansas State is going to want to pound the running game, so they’ll need Benton’s senior leadership to guide the defense on Saturday afternoon.
Kansas State Wildcats
Once again, who’s at quarterback? Denton? Thompson? I don’t think we’re seeing Jesse Ertz, but ya never know. I’d like to see more of Thompson as he appeared to be a crisper passer than Delton in his limited action last week at Texas Tech. Granted plenty of subpar quarterbacks have looked like crisp passers over the years against the Red Raiders… so?
CB Duke Shelley
Shelley is tops in the Big 12 with 11 passes defended, including a pick-six at Texas Tech en route to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Shelley and the rest of the K-State secondary is going to be challenged by Grier and his plethora of talent at wide receiver. They’ll need to have a big game on Saturday for K-State to win.
WVU pass offense
We mentioned how Grier has quietly had one of the best seasons in the country at quarterback. Throw in his talent at wide receiver like David Sills, Gary Jennings, and Ka’Raun White going up against the worst pass defense in the Big 12 and there could be plenty of fireworks on Saturday. Teams are throwing for nearly 300 yards per game against the Wildcats, which isn’t only the worst mark in the Big 12, but it’s 125th in the nation. The only teams below the Wildcats? Nevada, Arizona, East Carolina and UConn. Think about that for a moment? And we thought K-State would have one of the better secondary units in the conference with Duke Shelley, Kendall Adams and D.J. Reed. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.
K-State running attack
We know the Wildcats want to run the ball, and Snyder insisted this week it doesn’t matter who is at quarterback to do what he wants to do. Whether it’s Alex Delton or Skylar Thompson, the quarterback, along with Alex Barnes will look to have a big day against a WVU run defense that is giving up over 190 yards on the ground per game, which is second worst in the Big 12 conference. Barnes had just 45 rushing yards against Texas Tech, which snapped a two-game streak of 100+ rushing games. Junior running back Dalvin Warmack tied a season high with seven carries and we’ll see if the Cats work him into the rotation more regularly.
That’s what Bill Snyder-coached teams do, right? They are fifth in the country in kickoff returns, 14th in punt returns and 33rd in net punting. By comparison in those same departments, the Mountaineers are 16th, 114th, and 77th. West Virginia comes in with more talent, but if K-State can swing momentum with a big kick or punt return by Byron Pringle or D.J. Reed, it can change the entire game. Snyder teams have done this with regularity and it’s absolutely a factor for this weekend’s match up.
West Virginia 35, Kansas State 31
There will be points scored in this one. Neither defense plays well against the other team’s strengths. While K-State was able to dig out of a double-digit hole last week against Tech, the Mountaineers are more disciplined and just a better team that the Red Raiders in every facet. I don’t see how K-State will slow down Grier and his wide receivers, while simultaneously keeping up on offense. It’ll be close, but the Mountaineers will pull away in the second half to hang on for the win.