Fearless Picks: WVU – Kansas State
Our race looks much like the Big 12 conference battle: a couple of leaders, a tight middle pack, and a couple trailing the field. Well, check that, because the bottom of our standings are still miles better than Baylor or Kansas. With four games left to go now that a bowl is secured, it should be an interesting finish.
The low score of last week’s game sent some point totals upward, but Andy (15 points) and Jon (16) had the right idea as they looked for more defense in the contest.
Last Week: W Season Record: 9-0 Point Differential: 120
If there is one person that can slow down the WVU offense since the Gold & Blue joined the Big 12, it’s Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder. Since 2012, the Mountaineers have averaged 34.36 points per game, but that number drops to 17.2 when facing the Wildcats. That means the WVU defense will need to be spot on this week, especially against the run. So far this season the Mountaineer defense has been far from spot on, ranking 111th nationally in total defense. Improvement could be seen against Iowa State, as WVU allowed only 101 rushing yards. The three keys to a WVU victory are: hold the Wildcats to less than 150 yards rushing, win the turnover battle and don’t get out coached by Bill Snyder.
West Virginia 23-20
The ultimate toss up game. KState is a little bit down, but still fundamentally sound and tough to beat, especially in Manhattan. WVU cannot expect to play poorly and win. But I’ll give the edge to the Mountaineers in this one. They’re the better team.
Last Week: W Season Record: 9-0 Point Differential: 163
West Virginia 34-28
Last Week: W Season Record: 8-1 Point Differential: 125
This is the most difficult game on the slate to figure for West Virginia. It’s been a match-up nightmare for the Mountaineers, and one in which WVU should have had an edge yet found ways to lose. K-State always makes a big special teams play to thwart a win, though just last season that flipped the other way. It’s hard to know if WVU’s win over Iowa State was a harbinger of things to come, or merely a one-hit wonder which won’t be sustained against Kansas State and Texas. Until the Mountaineers win in Manhattan, I don’t trust it yet.
Kansas State 27-24
Last Week: W Season Record: 8-1 Point Differential: 140
With eight offensive and six defensive starters returning for Kansas State from last year, many expected more from the Wildcats in 2017. But three of K-State’s first four losses were by one score or less, and its defense (23.5 ppg) hasn’t lived up to projections. Still, WVU always seems to have matchup issues with Bill Snyder’s program, which has held WVU to an average of just 17.2 points in its five meetings.
Kansas State 28-27
Last Week: W Season Record: 8-1 Point Differential: 144
After its biggest win of the season last weekend over Iowa State, West Virginia travels to Kansas State to face a tough Wildcat team. It’s not going to be easy, though. The Wildcats have a tough defense and are physical at the line of scrimmage. Expect another thriller and another solid overall performance by the Mountaineers.
West Virginia 28-24
Last Week: W Season Record: 7-2 Point Differential: 167
Another road game and another difficult game to pick.On paper and with Vegas, this looks to be a toss up game, but road games always make me nervous. I have been leaning toward a close game, but a loss. What’s crazy about this season so far, even with the three losses at this point, is that there is a small chance that this team could finish in the top two in the league. Yes, a definite long shot, but there is a slim opportunity of a 10-win season. I’m not confident enough to predict that, but I think I will go out on a limb this week and pick the Mountaineers to win in a close game.
West Virginia 31-28
Last Week: L Season Record: 6-3 Point Differential: 163
WVU is coming off its best defensive effort of the year. If you would have said that WVU would only score 20 points, and be shut out in the second half, how many would think it would have resulted in a win? So big props to Tony Gibson and his depleted unit, which beat the Cyclones without Adam Shuler, Xavier Preston, Toyous Avery and Mike Daniels. I’m happy to be wrong and now be mired firmly in last place in the pick ‘em contest. Moving on to K-State … I think the biggest question is: Who will start at QB for the Fighting Bill Snyders? When healthy, Jesse Ertz is the starter and Alex Delton is the backup. But third stringer Skylar Thompson came on last week to lead the Wildcats to a crazy comeback win at Texas Tech. So Gibson has to basically prepare for three guys with differing styles. On defense, K-State is down a bit from their usual stout selves. This gives the Mountaineers hope and the opportunity they need. Although the game is on the road, I think the Mountaineers feel better about themselves after beating Iowa State and I look for that to continue on the road in Manhattan.
West Virginia 38-30