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WVU At Kansas State: Stats For Hope & Despair

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The final game of the 2015 season is upon us. WVU has rattled off a perfect November after a winless October. Can WVU win in December and possibly earn a January bowl? What does Bill Snyder do well this year?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This season has been a strange one for Mountaineer fans. The team started out 3-0 and broke through the rankings at the end of September. Then WVU entered the Mountaineer Minefield, departing a battered 3-4 after a winless October. Now, after another undefeated month, the season is finally drawing to a close.

Kansas State is led by a wizard in Bill Snyder. Just look at what Snyder has done at Kansas State despite less than stellar recruiting classes, JUCO transfers and the like.

Snyder took over a program that had the worst record in NCAA Division I-A (FBS) history at the time and had gone 27 consecutive games without a win (0-26-1) dating to October 1986.[13] From 1935-1988, the last year before Snyder's arrival, Kansas state had won 137 games in total. Since the 1982 Independence Bowl season, the Wildcats had won a total of seven games. Snyder then presided over one of the most successful rebuilding projects in the history of college athletics, ultimately earning enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame for his work at Kansas State.

Considering the dreadful state of the program he'd inherited, Snyder made the Wildcats respectable fairly quickly. In his third year, 1991, Snyder's Wildcats finished 7–4 and narrowly missed receiving the school's second bowl bid ever. The team also finished with a winning record in conference play for only the third time since winning the conference title in 1934...

...In his first 17-year stint as head coach at K-State, Snyder won 136 games – as many as his predecessors had won from 1935 to 1988 – and led Kansas State to eleven consecutive bowl games (1993–2003), including six wins. Snyder's legacy at K-State during his first term also included winning or sharing four Big 12 North titles (1998, 1999, 2000, 2003) and six 11-win seasons.

Kansas State Football History - Wikipedia.org

In 24 years at KSU, Snyder is 192-100-1.Despite playing football since 1893, the Wildcats only have 506 victories as a school, meaning Snyder has 37% of all the victories at Kansas State. Like I said, Wizard. WVU has opened this game as a 6-point favorite. Despite that fact, this will not be the final game for Bill Snyder. Thanks to the parity and mediocrity of the season, there are not enough .500 (i.e. 6-6) teams so a sub-.500 team will be needed to fill the bowl bids. Here is what the NCAA has to say:

Thanks to Missouri's decision to decline, K-State is bowl eligible regardless of the outcome of the game on Saturday. Don't expect Bill Snyder to rest on his laurels just because a technicality has him bowl eligible. He doesn't have a great team but he still has a dangerous team.

Stats for Hope for WVU

Typical of Bill Snyder coached teams, Kansas State is going to try and slow the game down, run the ball, control the clock and in general slow down the tempo of the fast-paced, up-tempo Big 12 teams. That has not worked this season, as K-State only has two conference wins, Iowa State and Kansas.

Kansas State is not a particularly explosive offense and is a truly abysmal passing offense and defense. Ranking in the triple digits in passing offense, at 177.2 yards per game, 105th in the nation and triple digits in passing defense at 291 yards per game, 124th in the nation. This should bode well for WVU. Head coach Dana Holgorsen was not pleased with the passing game in particular after the Iowa State win, being quoted as saying

"Anything but that, really," he said. "We can throw deep balls. We're not really making as many plays as we have in the past. But the pass protection's got to improve. The quarterback's got to improve. The intermediate passing has got to improve. Receivers being where they need to be has got to improve. There are a lot of things that have got to improve."

If I were to game-plan for the Mountaineers, I would do exactly what Iowa State did. I would play 7 in the box and bring an extra safety down to show a bear front. I would double Shelton Gibson with bracket coverage and dare anyone else to beat me. I would not let the run game beat me. Iowa State did that and the 'Eers still ran for over 200 yards and still scored 30 points.

In order for WVU to beat teams when they play these run-stopping defenses, the intermediate passing game has to get better. The good news is that Kansas State offers WVU the chance to improve on their passing numbers when the run gets taken away.

Despair for WVU?

One of the unique challenges in facing Kansas State is that they are a unique offense to the Big 12 and they play slowwwwwww. This often causes frustrated up-tempo offensive coordinators to get antsy and take shots that they wouldn't otherwise in order to score because they've only had 4 possessions the entire half.

Kansas State, on average, has the ball for over 33 minutes a game. West Virginia is slightly under 30 minutes a game. The West Virginia offense operates best when the plays stack on top of each other. A first down quickly becomes a 2nd and 4, which becomes another first down. In the span of 30 seconds, WVU has gained 18 yards on 3 plays and begins to wear down a defense by making them spread out and play fast.

Kansas State is able to accomplish this possession ability by converting over 40% of their third down chances. This is a place that the West Virginia senior-laden defense also excels at. Limiting offenses to 32% conversion, 15th best in the nation, this could be a rock vs hard place argument. If the Kansas State offense can convert extra third downs, they can frustrate and wear down the smaller WVU defense. It can place an unnecessary burden on the young offense who hasn't responded best when placed in a do-or-die situation.

Kansas State Offense (Rank) vs WVU Defense (Rank)
Team Points Per Game Rush Yards Per Game Pass Yards Per Game 3rd Down Conversion % Total Yards Per Game Turnovers Per Game
Kansas State Offense 30.8 (52) 167.9(64) 177.2 (105) 40.15 (56) 345.1 (105) 1.5 (53)
West Virginia Defense 23.7 (39) 177.2 (73) 218.6 (53) 32.26 (15) 395.8 (59) 2.9 (1)

Kansas State Defense (Rank) vs WVU Offense (Rank)
Team Points Per Game Rush Yards Per Game Pass Yards Per Game 3rd Down Conversion % Total Yards Per Game Turnovers Per Game
Kansas State Defense 34.1(97) 168.8 (61) 291.1 (124) 43.57 (92) 459.7 (104) 1.2 (102)
West Virginia Offense 33.5(34) 248.5 (8) 214.3 (68) 38.85 (70) 462.8 (27) 1.9 (92)