It’s the last home game of the season for the West Virginia Mountaineer football team. With the team sitting at 4-6 on the year, only two more games are guaranteed. To reach bowl eligibility, the Mountaineers will need to upset the 19th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats. If they manage that, the fate of their season will come down to a matchup with Oklahoma State in Stillwater the following week. We’ll take a look at three important factors that will come into play in Saturday’s matchup with Kansas State.
Which quarterback starts for West Virginia?
In last Saturday’s game we saw sophomore quarterback, Garrett Greene replace starter, J.T. Daniels on the final drive of the second quarter. The result? A more efficient West Virginia offense and a winning drive that lasted over six minutes and set up the game winning field goal. Greene was impressive in his two quarters of action as he racked up 138 passing yards and one touchdown as well as 119 rushing yards with two more touchdowns. His efforts were good enough to earn him Big XII player of the week as well as gain some notoriety among some West Virginia greats.
Winning on third down
Winning third down will be key as West Virginia attempts to pull off the upset. Kansas State isn’t a team that converts at a high level. On the season, they are converting 35 percent of their third down attempts. That number drops down to 27 percent in Kansas State losses. When looking back at last week’s game against Oklahoma, the Mountaineers were able to hold the Sooners to 1/11 on third down. In that game we witnessed West Virginia’s defense give up over 400 yards, but they were able to hold Oklahoma to 20 points because of their third down defense.
On the season, West Virginia has found third down success. This year the Mountaineers are converting 44 percent of their their down attempts. These numbers have come in part mostly with J.T. Daniels at quarterback. If WVU is to make a change on Saturday, it will be imperative that Greene leads the offense to success on third downs. To further that point, take a look at Kansas State’s defensive third down numbers in their two Big XII losses. In the Wildcats’ match up against TCU, they gave up 10/19 third down conversions. Two weeks later they allowed 8/15 third down conversions to Texas. Winning third down will go a long way in providing Saturday’s winner.
Stopping Deuce Vaughn
The Mountaineer defense will have a tough task on their hands when it comes to Kansas State running back, Deuce Vaugh. The junior rusher has eclipsed over 1,000 yards on the season as he earns 5.4 yards per carry. It’s been a mixed bag for West Virginia against Vaughn over the past two seasons. In 2020, West Virginia put the clamps down on Vaughn holding him to 22 yards on nine carries. West Virginia won that game by a score of 37-10. Deuce Vaughn was able to make up for his poor performance the previous year in the 2021 matchup. That game saw him carry the ball 25 time for 121 yards and a touchdown in a Wildcat win.
Country Roads Extras
Turnover margin will play a key factor in this game. Kansas State has a +11 turnover margin at this point in the season. On the other hand, West Virginia’s turnover margin comes in at -7. After his game-winning field goal against Oklahoma last weekend, Casey Legg remains perfect on the season at 13-13. Legg has also hit 33-34 extra points on the season to bring his total point value to 72.