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Place: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, West Virginia
The Big 12 showdown lost some intrigue when No. 15 West Virginia was drubbed by Texas Tech last week, but Saturday’s game remains a huge contest for No. 3 Kansas State in its first visit to Morgantown since 1931.
Prior to the Mountaineers’ loss, this clash was on a collision course to be a high-stakes contest between two unbeaten squads. The Wildcats are alone in first place in the Big 12 and are surprise entrants in the national championship picture.
The Mountaineers are in a four-way tie for second place and their big-play offense is being sabotaged by a leaky defense that is one of the worst in the nation. West Virginia has allowed a whopping 157 points in three conference games.
Kansas State Wildcats (6-0, 3-0 Big 12): Senior run-first quarterback Collin Klein is on the fringe of the Heisman Trophy race. Klein has rushed for 10 touchdowns and passed for seven, completing 66.9 percent of his passes with only two interceptions. He has 510 rushing yards.
Junior running back John Hubert (602 yards) is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has rushed for eight touchdowns. The defense hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in a game but will be challenged by the high-flying Mountaineers. Junior safety Ty Zimmerman has a team-best three interceptions and senior defensive end Adam Davis has a team-high six tackles for loss.
West Virginia Mountaineers (5-1, 2-1): Senior quarterback Geno Smith has had a tremendous season with 25 touchdown passes against no interceptions. He has a streak of 314 passes since he was last picked off and is the Heisman Trophy frontrunner with 2,271 yards. Senior wideout Tavon Austin (68 receptions, 758 yards) has caught 10 or more passes in seven straight games dating back to last season.
Junior receiver Stedman Bailey has been slowed by an ankle injury and has 55 receptions for a team-high 799 yards. The defense was riddled for 676 yards by Texas Tech two weeks after allowing 700 to Baylor. The Mountaineers are allowing 37.3 points and 498.5 yards per game.
1. This is only the third meeting between the squads and the first in 81 years. The series is tied 1-1.
2. Kansas State is seeking a fourth straight road victory against a ranked opponent, which would mark a first in school history.
3. West Virginia has allowed 600-plus yards in two of its last three games. That had occurred only one time in the school’s football history previously.