This season has been somewhat of a mess for West Virginia, its first under head coach Neal Brown. Kansas State also has a new head coach, but the transition has been a little smoother under Chris Klieman and that’s why the Wildcats were -14 point home favorites with an over/under of 47.5 earlier in the week.
The Mountaineers have lost their last five games and while they’ve put up fights against Baylor and Texas, they were also blown out at home by Texas Tech last weekend. That’s not a great look and something KSU bettors will look to in this matchup. The Wildcats had won three straight before losing late against Texas last weekend, though they still managed to cover.
The biggest outlier in this game is WVU’s defense, which is allowing 172.1 rushing yards per contest, albeit at 3.9 yards per carry. That’s exactly where K State will attack with run-first quarterback Skylar Thompson, who has 405 rushing yards on 6.9 yards per carry if you don’t include sacks.
While he surprisingly struggled against Texas last week, he used his arm to throw for 253 yards and two touchdowns. If WVU focuses on stopping the run, Thompson showed he can move the ball through the air. Top running back James Gilbert may miss another game due to injury, but KSU has used three different guys to take his spot and they’ve all filled the role just fine.
The big problem for Kansas State’s defense is against the run where it’s allowing 172 rushing yards on 5.4 yards per carry. Against most offenses, that’s a major issue, but West Virginia has been brutal running the ball, averaging 2.7 yards per carry as a team.
That’s not even because of sacks as neither Leddie Brown nor Kennedy McKoy are averaging more than 3.4 ypc and they’ve combined for just 447 rushing yards. Quarterback Austin Kendall has been forced to do everything for this offense and he’s not ready for that, hence his 6.5 yards per attempt for 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Kansas State has dominated only one conference game this season and that came against Kansas so taking them as a two-touchdown favorite won’t be easy. That said, it’s unlikely this WVU offense is going to crack 20 points, which means if Kansas State can surpass 30 behind its rushing attack, that may be enough for the cover.
The problem for WVU is that KSU’s defensive weakness is also WVU’s offensive weakness, which usually isn’t a good thing to bet on and Kansas backers found that out a couple weeks ago.
West Virginia is 1-4 ATS in its last five games, while Kansas State has covered its last four with the under hitting in its last five following a straight-up loss. The under has also hit in the last seven meetings between these schools with the Wildcats 5-2 ATS in the last seven.
Our Pick – Kansas State -14