West Virginia opens conference play this Saturday against a familiar nemesis — the Wildcats of Kansas State. As we inch closer to kickoff, here are three things to keep in mind as the Mountaineers prep for their opening foray into Big 12 play.
1. QB Controversy Still Unsolved
At the beginning of the season, the question surrounding the Wildcats centered around who would start under center for K-State. Weeks later, Skylar Thompson appears to be the main guy — in last week’s game against UTSA, Thompson threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns, while Delton has only thrown for a total of 177 yards on the season — but neither player has looked great. Oh, and those three games include contests with FCS South Dakota and the aforementioned Roadrunners. K-State’s quarterbacks will face the biggest test of the young season in Morgantown.
2. Bill Snyder: the Kryptonite of West Virginia Football
A lot can be said about Coach Snyder and his six-year history with the Mountaineers.. In a way, he’s sort of the Bob Huggins of Kansas State — a gritty coach who finds ways to excel with players who are not christened as 4 or 5-star recruits.
Generally speaking, Snyder has had the Mountaineers’ number since the program joined the Big 12. The Wildcats are 4-2 against WVU over the last six years, and Coach Snyder will look to keep the advantage moving in his direction.
3. A Contrast of Styles
Bill Snyder’s contrarian approach to the Big 12’s identity as a fast-paced, Air Raid league is a big reason why West Virginia has struggled with the Wildcats. When K-State rolls into town, it’s important to throw out the records and keep in mind what the history of this game looks like.
The truth is that West Virginia has two wins that have come by a combined six points. So despite West Virginia’s status as a 17-point favorite, a close game is very much in play this weekend. The difference in 2018 might be that Dana Holgorsen and Jake Spavital have figured out how to execute a powerful passing offense that still runs the ball often and aggressively. Add in dramatically better play along the defensive line, and West Virginia may finally have the pieces to solve the riddle of K-State.
Expect this year to be another grinder, but this time, the Mountaineers pull away in the second half.