Geno Smith and the No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers were humbled in Week 7 against Texas Tech. Not only were they handed their first loss of the season, but Smith and the dangerous offense were all but shutdown. They need a bounce-back game badly, but they couldn't be faced with a much tougher opponent.
The No. 4-ranked Kansas State Wildcats are 6-0 this season, and they are 16-3 since 2011. They fought off a game Iowa State team to remain perfect in Week 7. The Wildcats come into Morgantown with national championship aspirations. They will likely need a win to leave with them in tact.
The Mountaineers still may have an outside shot of getting into the picture, but they will need lots of help along the way. Counting Saturday's clash with the Wildcats, the Mountaineers still have four games remaining against ranked opponents.
It's a long shot, but an opportunity nonetheless. Here's how you can catch the action:
When: Saturday, October 20 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia
Live Stream: Mountaineer TV and K-State TV (pay services)
Radio: WAJR-AM 1440 in Morgantown, West Virginia, KMAN-AM 1350 in Manhattan, Kansas
Spread: West Virginia favorites (-4) per Oddsshark.com
Kansas State Wildcats
No Injuries to report.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Shawne Alston - RB - Questionable October 20 (thigh)
What's at Stake?
Any shot at playing for a national championship is up for grabs for the Mountaineers. If they lose, they can kiss their slim chances goodbye. The Wildcats would also be behind the eight-ball with a loss, though not as much as their opponent.
This is also a key game in the hunt for Big 12 supremacy. West Virginia would love to obtain that in its first year in the conference, but taking its second loss would just about kill that dream as well.
What They're Saying
Collin Klein should be on everyone's short list of Heisman trophy candidates. He's been great all season long, and it appears you can count ESPN's Dave Uppen as one of his supporters. He writes:
Klein is back to his old ways and looking better than ever. He's tough as ever, but a better passer than he was a year ago and easily stakes his claim as the Big 12's best dual-threat quarterback.
This has a chance to be Klein's signature performance. If the Wildcats win and Klein has a big game, he'll be doing it while going head-to-head with another early Heisman hopeful in Smith.
This game figures to feature a ton of points scored. Both teams are averaging over 40 points per game this season. Expect Klein to have a monster performance.
On the Mountaineers side, coach Dana Holgorsen spoke to WVU Sports' John Antonik about the Mountaineers' monumental struggle against Texas Tech on Saturday. He said:
It probably started with our inability to run the ball. We didn’t do a very good job of finishing blocks early in the game. We didn’t make anybody miss at the running back spot. That wasn’t the only problem. We just never got into a rhythm.
That may be true, but it's hard to ignore the fact that the team gave up 49 points. The offense is not going to be able to produce 50 points every Saturday. At some point, the defense needs to stop someone if this team wants to be elite. the Mountaineers are allowing 37.3 points per game.
That puts tons of pressure on the offense every week.
Kansas State Player to Watch - Collin Klein
This will be the game that makes everyone call Klein a front-runner for the Heisman trophy. He's an amazing dual threat. He has accounted for 1,584 yards and 17 touchdowns already this year.
A monster game in Morgantown will only add to those totals—and the Heisman hype.
West Virginia Player to Watch - Geno Smith
The nation was singing Smith's praises for three weeks. The Mountaineers were undefeated, and he was leading a seemingly unstoppable offense. The team took a beating on Saturday, but Smith wasn't nearly as bad as it may seem.
He still threw for 275 yards and a touchdown—his 25th of the season—and he still hasn't throw an interception. Still, it seemed his bandwagon emptied a bit.
Bleacher Report's own draft expert Matt Miller tweeted this on Saturday, and I totally agree:
Every player has a bad game. Those jumping off the Geno Smith train are fools.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 13, 2012
Key Matchup - Kansas State Front Seven vs. West Virginia's O-Line
Smith wasn't as comfortable against the Red Raiders, and some of that was because of the play of the front seven. He wasn't sacked in the game, but the Red Raiders were able to take away short routes, and prevent themselves from being blown away on the ground.
If the Wildcats can get pressure and have success in short zones, they should be able to make enough plays to win this game.
Both teams have high-powered offenses and dynamic quarterbacks, but the Wildcats have also shown the ability to stop teams. The defense is only allowing 16.5 points per game this season.
The Wildcats will win a close game on the road, 40-30.
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