Kansas State Wildcats vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Pick
Kansas State Wildcats (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
College Football Week 4
When: Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 – 3:30 PM ET
Where: Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium – Morgantown, West Virginia
By: Keith Franks, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Spread: Kansas State +16 / West Virginia -16
The #13 West Virginia Mountaineers will host their Big 12 adversaries the Kansas State Wildcats at the picturesque Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia on Saturday, September 25th, 2018. The contest is set for a 3:30 PM ET kick off and will be aired on ESPN. As a whole, these contests have been quite competitive as of recent. The last four meetings between the Mountaineers and the Wildcats have been settled by a touchdown or less, two of which were separated by a mere point. Most recently, West Virginia took to the road and ventured down to Manhattan, Kansas where it handed the “Wabash Cannonballs” a loss of 28-23. In doing so, WVU covered a three-point line ending four consecutive covers by K-State. West Virginia has won the last two overall after Kansas State won four meetings in a row previous to the current streak.
Kansas State Bounces Back
Coach Bill Snyder’s bunch responded well after getting bullied on its own field two weeks ago when #14 Mississippi State came to town and handed K-State a 31-10 loss in Manhattan. Last week, the Wildcats defeated the Road Runners of Texas-San Antonio by a score of 41-17. The contest saw K-State’s chief offensive weapon Skylar Thompson accrue nearly 300 yards of offense both through the air and on the ground, as he would proliferate three scores in the process. Thompson is the epitome of dual-threat quarterback and his talents were on display in full against UTSA. The win was the most convincing of K-State’s resume in 2018 as their opening win against FCS South Dakota required overtime to declare the Cats as the winner.
West Virginia Remains Perfect
Due to the events surrounding the landfall of Hurricane Florence, the Mountaineers were unable to make the trip to Raleigh, North Carolina to square off with the North Carolina State Wolf Pack last week. Had they been able to play, perhaps West Virginia would have a loss on the year. However, the fact remains that West Virginia remains perfect at the moment both against the spread and most notably in the straight-up win department. The Mountaineers boast a 40-14 win over Tennessee to open the season, followed up by a 52-17 victory against FCS Youngstown State before they headed into the unintentional bye.
A Key Match-Up To Focus On: West Virginia’s High-Powered Offense Against A Nicked Up K-State Defense
A central narrative surrounding this contest is the vaunted West Virginia offense against an injury-battered and much-maligned Kansas State defense. As a whole, KSU’s defense ranks among the worst against the rush as they give up 201.3 yards per game (105th nationally) on the ground this season. This unit also gives up a total of 390.7 yards per game which places them 86th overall in America. This in itself is disconcerting when you factor in that the Wildcats have suffered several injuries to key personnel in their defense, West Virginia’s highly-touted quarterback Will Grier is expected to have a field day in Morgantown with all the offensive weapons he already has it at his disposal.
Take Kansas State +16
One thing that Kansas State has been very good at is playing responsible football. Last year, Kansas State was among the best in the country in the plus/minus end of the game, achieving a 13th ranked +10 at the end of 2017. A big philosophy of Bill Snyder is limiting opportunities for the opposition by erasing mistakes. Presently, the Cats have not adhered to this principle but given Snyder’s coaching acumen we can expect Kansas State’s recent display of atypical sloppy football to change rapidly as he gets his teams to play up to their level of their opponents. Against a noteworthy opponent such as West Virginia, Kansas State’s normally efficient methods will be instrumental against a football team as trigger-happy as the Mountaineers.
As was mentioned previously, the last four meetings between these two teams was one of possessions. The potency of WVU’s air raid attack combined with KSU’s troubles on defense is being oversold here. The Cats own an edge in the coaching department by virtue of experience even if WVU’s Dana Holgorsen is a good coach in his own right. Furthermore, Kansas State has already faced a big-name opponent this year and the Mississippi State game was far closer than the box score would reveal. West Virginia’s last opponent was a middling FCS team two weeks ago. Overall, the Mountaineers remain untested for the most part. We saw WVU struggle against a dumpster fire in Tennessee in Week One before they would summarily pull away and pad the stat line. Truth be told this is a step up for West Virginia and there are way too many points on the table here to lay, no matter what analysts may say.