No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats (6-0 SU, 4-1-1 ATS) vs. No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-1 SU, 2-4 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Saturday, October 20th, 2012, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown W.Va.
TV: FOX Network
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: KSU +2.5/WVA -2.5
Over/Under Total: 71.5
Now that they’ve fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten in college football the 13th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers will try and turn the tables on the unbeaten 4th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats this Saturday when KSU visits Morgantown for a still important Big 12 Conference battle on Fox.
The Mountaineers of course were toasted at Texas Tech last week, 49-14, so now all they can hope for is a loss by Kansas State to get back to even in the Big 12 title hunt and a big, signature win against a highly ranked team to get back into the BCS title picture. Both of those goals can be accomplished this week with a bounce-back win over the Wildcats, a fact that coach Dana Holgorson will surely drive into his players during the week.
But it won’t be easy because Kansas State is a veteran bunch led by an old-school coach in Bill Snyder that was built for these types of games. The Wildcats survived a scare last week in Iowa State, 27-21, so they already have been “tested.” Plus, even though they enter undefeated and ranked third in the BCS rankings, the Wildcats are playing the “disrespect” card in the locker room after national pundits and media questioned whether or not the Wildcats were worthy of such a high ranking.
The disrespect isn’t coming from Las Vegas, since the oddsmakers opened the Big 12 showdown with West Virginia as 3.5-point favorites, or just the hook over the “standard” home field advantage three points. The public isn’t dissin’ the Wildcats either, as most of the early money has been so Kansas State heavy that the number is down to minus -3 or -2.5 (with -115 juice at some of them).
The over/under total opened at 74 at most of the offshore sportsbooks, and the number has moved all over with the total down to 73.5 at some of them, but up to 74.5 at other books.
No matter how deep you look at this game, the overriding factor that will likely turn it is the fact that Kansas St. plays defense and West Virginia does not.
West Virginia has Heisman hopeful Geno Smith, and weapons like Stedman Bailey ( he’s questionable though), Andrew Buie and Travon Austin. Heck, the Mountaineers burned freshman WR Travares Copeland’s redshirt last week and moved him into the starting lineup this week, so it looks like their ridiculous passing offense (385 ypg - 3rd) is going to get more dangerous.
The problem is West Virginia has given up 452 yards a game on defense in their three Big 12 games, and it doesn’t look like it going to get much better. The Mountaineers top corner, Brodrick Jenkins, will not play opening the door for two true freshman to try and win the starting job in practice this week. Either way, the Mountaineers have played 11 true freshman this season and there’s no doubt that number is going to climb higher on Saturday in primetime.
This of course all plays into K-State’s hands, especially quarterback Collin Klein on offense. You can expect a heavy dose of Klein and John Hubert (6.2 ypc) on the option-attack to control the clock and keep Smith and the Mountaineers offense off the field, but you can also expect Klein to try and take advantage of a true freshman starting at corner in the Mountaineers already weak secondary.
With this being the first Big 12 meeting between these two schools, there is no recent history to look at for handicapping clues.
A look at the betting trends shows that Kansas State has played well on the road lately, going 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight. West Virginia has only gone 1-4 ATS at home lately, but most of those came as four-touchdown favorites in non-conference games, so take it for what its worth.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I really like the way Kansas State plays, and I think they match up against the Mountaineers perfectly. Defense will be the deciding factor here and WVA’s isn’t as good. I’m betting K. State plus the points.
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