Ranked No.4 in the BCS and undefeated in the Big 12 should earn you the respect of the football experts right? Well, in the case of K-State, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Earlier in the week, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith talked about how quarterback Collin Klein is a good player on a mediocre team. However, if the Wildcats are able to win another conference road game against a top 15 team, then it's likely not even Stephen A. Smith will be able to deny how great of a team K-State is.
While the Mountaineers are a very good team especially on offense, I believe the Wildcats will get the job done for three main reasons.
Number one, the best way to stop a great offense like West Virginia's is not to allow their offense on the field. The way to do that is to run the ball early and often, something that K-State does as well as anybody in the country.
In their 27-21 win over Iowa State last weekend, the Wildcats held the ball for nearly 41 minutes of the game, a staggering statistic. While K-State only rushed for 3.4 yards per carry for the game, when it came down to crunch time, the Wildcats were able to gash a very good Iowa State rush defense. On first look at the West Virginia defense, they appear to do a good job of stopping the run, but you have to go more in-depth to see that their numbers are flawed.
Teams do not run the ball near as much against West Virginia, in large part because their pass defense is so horrendous. The Mountaineers give up 364.7 yards per game through the air, which is the third worst in the country.
With the Wildcats, they are going to keep pounding the rock and look to wear you out. As Fox analyst Charles Davis says, "When you are tackling a 6'6'' 230 pound quarterback and a running back like John Hubert, eventually you are going to wear out." Even if the Mountaineers are able to slow down K-State early, eventually they will tire out and K-State will take control of the game.
Number two, the Wildcats are one of the most fundamental teams in the country. Even after nine penalties in last week's game against Iowa State, the Wildcats are still tied for the least amount of penalties in the country, averaging just over three a game.
In today's game, where every team has so many talented players capable of making big plays, it is critical for team's to limit their mistakes, because they can turn into huge plays for the other team. While penalties are a huge part, turnovers also play a huge role in games.
Entering the matchup, the Wildcats are tied for seventh in the country in turnover margin, forcing 14 turnovers while only turning the ball over four times.
All you have to do is look at these two statistics and it makes it pretty easy to see why K-State has not yet lost a game this season.
Number three, the defense makes plays when they need to. Much like the West Virginia defensive statistic, you need to look more into the stats to understand why the Wildcats are an effective defense.
There is the defense known as the "bend-but-don't-break defense," and the Wildcats are the perfect example of this.
K-State ranks 29th in the country in red zone defense, allowing the opponents to score 73 percent, but only 43 percent of those possessions end in touchdowns. There is no doubt that the Wildcats are going to give up yards to the explosive offense of West Virginia, but it is harder to score in the red zone as a passing team, and this is K-State will hold them to a couple of field goals to secure the game.
PREDICTION: K-STATE 45 WEST VIRGINIA 34
There is no doubt that West Virginia is going to come out fired up after last weekend's loss. I even expect them to score the first touchdown of the game. However, as the Wildcats have done all year, they will not be phased by the adversity. The rushing attack of Klein and Hubert will be too much for West Virginia to stop, and Klein will show why he deserves to go to New York for the Heisman.