By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
MORGANTOWN — West Virginia and Kansas State both will be battling to snap short losing streaks on Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) are coming off back-to-back losses to Baylor 73-42 and Texas Tech 37-27. The Wildcats (2-4, 0-3 Big 12) have dropped three in a row to Texas Tech 31-21, Oklahoma State 35-29, and Baylor 35-29.
Kansas State is a 10 ½ point favorite to defeat WVU in the Big 12 game which is set to start at 3:45 p.m. Fox Sports 1 will televise the action.
This is the Mountaineers’ first ever visit to the KSU campus in a series the Wildcats lead by a 2-1 edge. They trounced WVU 55-14 here last season.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia’s third-year head coach, will be exchanging strategy with Bill Snyder, who is in his 23rd year as KSU’s head coach and came into this year with an overall record of 172-89-0.
Holgorsen, who has been in Manhattan, Kan., previously in the role of offensive coordinator, will tell you this: “It’s a heck of a (tough) place to play a college football game (for a visiting team). There is going to be 53,000 people there—they are rowdy.
“It is a challenging place to play. It will be a challenge for our football team.”
Clint Trickett, the home-grown Morgantown area transfer back from Florida State, finally has settled in as West Virginia’s starting quarterback. He reportedly now is healthy and well-versed in Holgorsen’s offense.
Hopefully, the Mountaineers will be more consistent and more productive than they have been through the shaky first seven contests of the season.
In four starts, Trickett has completed 60 of 123 passes for 724 yards and three touchdowns. He has thrown three interceptions.
Charles Sims, the senior transfer from Houston, is WVU’s leading rusher with a net 557 yards and four TDs. He also has caught 26 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown.
Daikiel Shorts is the top receiver with 28 catches for 296 yards and has scored twice.
Defensively, the top three Mountaineer tacklers for seven games are junior linebacker Jared Barber (33 solo, 17 assisted, 50 total), senior safety Darwin Cook (41-6-47) and sophomore linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (26-11-37).
Kansas State has been using two young quarterbacks in rotation, which could cause problems for the Mountaineer defenders. Those are sophomore Daniel Sams and junior Jake Walters.
Both are distinctly different in style. Sams is more of a running back than a QB. So much so, he leads the Wildcats in rushing with 522 yards and seven touchdowns. Walters is more of a passing QB. He has made 76 of 122 passes for 1,031 yards and four TDs.
Here is a statistical comparison of these two Big 12 rivals going into this game:
Scoring offense—WVU 24.4 per game, KSU 30.2 ppg.
First downs—WVU 144, KSU 125.
Rushing offense—WVU 152.6 yards per game, KSU 184.2 ypg.
Passing offense—246.6 ypg, KSU 216.2 ypg.
Total offense—WVU 399.1 ypg, KSU 400.3 ypg.