Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Before the season started, few would have imagined that Kansas State would have been sitting at #4 in the BCS Rankings this deep into the season. Even if you were a big fan of Kansas State…or an analyst who liked their chances to have a good year…nobody was penciling in a road win at Oklahoma amidst a week-by-week board sweep.
Yet, here we are past the middle of October, and Kansas State is back on the college football map with authority thanks to consistently impressive performances and a road victory over the highly regarded sooners.
*Kansas State could still conceivably run the table given their quality of play and relative uncertainty across the rest of the Big 12.
*Kansas State could scoot past BCS #3 Oregon if the Ducks stub their toe anywhere against what looks to be a brutal second half schedule (one which includes USC, Stanford, Cal, Oregon State, and a probable spot in the Pac 12 championship game).
*Kansas State could even scoot past #2 Florida or #1 Alabama because both teams would be destined to face each other in the SEC Championship game should they win out and carry the top two BCS spots into the postseason. Somebody has to lose the SEC Championship game.
Could Bill Snyder and his Wildcats actually be playing for the BCS Championship come January? The toughest single hurdle left arguably comes Saturday Night on FOX TV in prime time on the road against West Virginia. Oklahoma’s already out of the way. Games with Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Texas will all come at home in Manhattan. The toughest road game left is at TCU, who will be using its backup quarterback the rest of the season.
Sure…maintaining perfection is tough in a major conference even if you’re favored every time out. Kansas State is still a relative longshot all things considered. Their odds become much better if they survive as a small underdog Saturday against the Mountaineers. Let’s see what our indicators say about the possibilities…
KANSAS STATE at WEST VIRGINIA (7 p.m. on FOX)
Las Vegas Spread: West Virginia by 2.5, total of 71.5
Home field advantage is usually worth at least three points in college football…more when there’s a lot of travel involved or when a huge crowd will help the hosts. West Virginia will have a great crowd…and will be facing a team that’s never been to Morgantown before. So…home field is arguably worth at least FOUR points here. You can see that the market rates Kansas State as the superior of the two teams because this spread is below the homefield threshold. It took more time than it should have…but Kansas State is finally getting respect in the line. Note that the high Over/Under suggests another West Virginia shootout is in order. The defense has really struggled in recent weeks vs. Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech. Can they keep K-State out of the end zone?
CURRENT BCS RANKINGS
Kansas State: 4th
West Virginia: 13th
We should also note here that West Virginia has a chance to get back in the mix with a quality win over K-State. They would still have to beat Oklahoma to rise near the top of the “one-loss” list. That’s a home game, and Oklahoma has a recent spotty road record. The point being…this game has significant BCS ramifications for BOTH teams. West Virginia can get back into the championship discussions (both in the Big 12 and the nation) with a dominating victory…while Kansas State is knocking at the door of history.
Kansas State: Bill Snyder
West Virginia: Dana Holgorsen
Interesting mix here. Snyder is one of those guys who keeps getting the job done with smarts, savvy, and toughness. He’s rarely rated amongst the greatest of all time in discussions, usually falling into the “and, you can’t forget about” list that comes right after the all-time greats. Well, what he’s done after returning from retirement is nothing short of a miracle. In seemingly minutes, Kansas State had fallen down to become Kansas when Snyder first left. Now, again in a finger snap, they’re basically Oklahoma again. It’s not like Kansas high schools are a hotbed of high school talent. Snyder has to get the coaching edge in this matchup give his big advantage in experience. Holgorsen is the kind of coach though who will come up with some creative wrinkles in a must-win situation. Holgorsen’s reputation took a big hit last week with a teamwise no-show in Lubbock. Plus, the credit he was getting for surviving shootouts with Baylor and Texas disappeared when those teams laid gigantic eggs last week as well.
Kansas State: Collin Klein
West Virginia: Geno Smith
Klein finds a way to get the job done amidst lower expectations. Smith mixes big plays with disappointing accuracy in a way that breaks the hearts of those having high expectations. Be sure not to let expectations pollute your thinking here. Smith is the better and more dangerous threat amongst two guys who are going to have major impacts on offensive production. That being said…it’s Klein who is facing the softer of the two defenses. It’s not that hard to score on West Virginia if you know what you’re doing. Can Klein keep his head at a strange site in front of a hostile crowd? He did at Oklahoma.
LAST WEEK’S BOXES
KANSAS STATE 27, IOWA STATE 21
Total Yardage: Kansas State 364, Iowa State 231
Rushing Yards: Kansas State 177, Iowa State 65
Passing Stats: Kansas State 16-24-0-187, Iowa State 16-36-1-166
Turnovers: Kansas State 1, Iowa State 1
Third Downs: Kansas State 47%, Iowa State 33%
Vegas Line: Kansas State by 6, total of 48.5
Kansas State doesn’t have the explosiveness of West Virginia unless they’re facing a team that’s easily overpowered. Iowa State was fired up for this one…so K-State managed statistical dominance without posting big numbers. Run your fingers down the categories and you see that K-State was solid as a rock in a dangerous spot on the schedule. This wasn’t arena football. It was real football. Bill Snyder knows how to coach real football.
TEXAS TECH 49, WEST VIRGINIA 14
Total Yardage: West Virginia 428, Texas Tech 686
Rushing Yards: West Virginia 133, Texas Tech 173
Passing Stats: West Virginia 29-55-0-295, Texas Tech 33-43-1-513
Turnovers: West Virginia 0, Texas Tech 2
Third Downs: West Virginia 48%, Texas Tech 50%
Vegas Line: West Virginia by 3, total of 75
Winds were stiff in Lubbock last Saturday, and Geno Smith had no idea how to deal with it. He threw 26 incomplete passes…only managing to avoid interceptions because many of his passes were nowhere near anybody. Meanwhile, the West Virginia defense just stood around watching the game even when they were on the field. They almost allowed 700 total yards in tough offensive weather! This was clearly a letdown spot after the war in Austin with Texas. But, having a war with Texas now looks embarrassing given what Oklahoma did to the Horns in Dallas. West Virginia may not be nearly as good as everyone had been thinking two weeks ago.
The “intangibles” should probably go to West Virginia given this is a bounce back spot at home in a game that will give them a chance for immediate redemption. If West Virginia isn’t fired up for this one…then they’re not the team anyone was expecting to see when the season began. Kansas State looks to have the better pure football case because of their defense. West Virginia’s defense has shown signs of wearing down from the pace of play…as well as signs of wearing down because they’re playing the better athletes of the Big 12 than they were used to seeing in the weaker Big East.
JIM HURLEY has been working hard with his team of experts because of the mixed signals here. Computer simulations are going to penalize West Virginia greatly after last week. Information guys are liking what they’re hearing regarding WV’s preparation for this week. Possibly this game will be a pass for NETWORK on a day with many great options. It could show up as part of a TV parlay with the likes of South Carolina-Florida (check yesterday’s archives for a stat preview), BYU-Notre Dame, Alabama-Tennessee, or Michigan State-Michigan. Maybe enough of the influences will line up in a way that makes this a major release.
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