On October 1, the Kansas State Wildcats will visit Morgantown to square off with the West Virginia Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium in the first Big 12 Conference game for each team. The Mountaineers will be looking to exact some revenge on the Wildcats as Bill Snyder’s team currently has a five-game winning streak against WVU.
Last season, Kansas State escaped with a 24-23 victory over the Mountaineers in Manhattan, KS despite playing converted wide receiver Kody Cook at quarterback. A fourth quarter 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Morgan Burns ended up being the difference in the Wildcats’ win.
Let’s take a look at the 2016 version of the Kansas State Wildcats and what to expect when they come to Morgantown.
Game #4: Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State finished 2015 with a 6-7 record after falling in the Liberty Bowl to Arkansas. Despite the losing record, it was quite an achievement for the Wildcats to even make a bowl after suffering injuries to four quarterbacks during the season. Cook ended up having to start the last two games of the season with no other healthy options on the roster.
Entering the 2016 season, it looks like redshirt junior Jesse Ertz will be the Wildcats’ starter at quarterback, although Snyder has stated that Joe Hubener and Alex Delton will have an opportunity to win the job as well. Ertz was listed at No. 1 on the team’s depth chart entering last season as well before tearing his ACL.
Wildcat Offense: Conservatism Is The Name Of The Game
The Wildcats are never going to be confused for an air raid offense, but the unit should be better than it was last season based purely on the health of the quarterback position. Leading receiver Deante Burton returns and Kansas State is especially excited about junior college transfer Byron Pringle who registered nine catches for 163 yards and a touchdown in the team’s spring game.
Starting running back Charles Jones returns in 2016, but Snyder will be without four of his five starting offensive linemen from 2015 including Cody Whitehair who was a second round pick of the Chicago Bears in the 2015 NFL Draft. The lone returning starter will be sophomore center Dalton Risner.
Defense Is Wildcats’ Calling Card
Snyder’s defense had an uncharacteristically down season in 2015 as the unit was torched by the likes of TCU, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. In those three games, the Wildcats gave up a combined 166 points as they couldn’t find a way to slow down those high-flying offenses.
The good news for Kansas State is that there are nine players returning with starting experience. With another year under their belts, one would think that there would be some better performances on the horizon.
Prediction: WVU Breaks The Losing Streak
The Mountaineers have only beaten the Wildcats once in six meetings between the two schools and have lost five in a row. With the amount of firepower returning on offense for WVU, and the home-field advantage, I expect the Mountaineers to finally down Kansas State, 36-27.