By CAM HUFFMAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
On paper, Kansas State is the perfect medicine for a struggling West Virginia football team.
The Wildcats, who will host the Mountaineers Saturday at 3:45 p.m., in a game televised by Fox Sports 1, are 2-4 overall, and their only wins came against Louisiana-Lafayette and Massachusetts. KSU is 0-3 in Big 12 play and is currently on a three-game losing streak.
But that’s not the team that Dana Holgorsen has seen on tape in preparation for Saturday’s contest. The third-year WVU head coach — whose Mountaineers fell to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in Big 12 play after blowing an 11-point third-quarter lead in a home loss to Texas Tech last weekend — doesn’t see a whole lot of difference in this year’s Wildcats and the group that nearly played for the national title a year ago and destroyed WVU 55-14 in Morgantown.
“If you remember last year when I was talking about Kansas State, they were top two or three in the country at that point in time,” said Holgorsen during Tuesday’s media with the media. “They are 2-4 at this point this year. A lot of the things I say about them this year is going to be the same things I said about them last year.”
The Wildcats have one embarrassing loss on the schedule — a 24-21 defeat at home against Football Championship Subdivision member North Dakota State in the season opener — but the rest have been close.
They were in the game until the final minutes in a 31-21 loss to Texas, and a week later they had No. 21 Oklahoma State on the ropes in Stillwater, Okla., before the Cowboys pulled out a 33-29 win.
The last time out, KSU gave No. 15 Baylor all it wanted. The Bears won 35-25, but it was, by far, the closest game undefeated Baylor has played all season.
The Wildcats were off last weekend and have had some extra time to prepare for the Mountaineers. WVU will also have to go into Bill Snyder Family Stadium, where the Wildcats are 24-6 since Snyder’s return as head coach in 2009.
“It will be a big challenge for us,” said Holgorsen. “I am still disappointed in the loss last week. I thought it was a game that we could have won. We have to bounce back from it and move forward. There are never going to be any easy games. Welcome to the Big 12 — this is what we signed up for, and we have to play a tough opponent of the road (this weekend).
“I have been to Kansas State several times, and they have built that up from nothing to what you see there today. It is a heck of a place to play a college football game. There is going to be 53,000 people there. They are loud, and they are rowdy. Their student section is great, which is right behind our bench. It is a challenging place to go play. All venues in the Big 12 are challenging places to go play. It will be a tremendous challenge for our football team.”
WVU will head to Manhattan, Kan., in desperate need of a win after dropping two in a row and three of its last four. KSU will be the first unranked team the Mountaineers have faced in four games, but Holgorsen isn’t using competition as an excuse.
“No one wants to hear an excuse about not winning the game because the level of competition, whether it is at West Virginia or Kansas State,” said Holgorsen. “Nobody wants to hear that you are not winning a game because of experience.
“Nobody wants to hear those excuses. Why not get better and try to go win?”