There are plenty of postseason ramifications in play as No. 15 Kansas State travels to Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday afternoon for a Big 12 clash with West Virginia.
The Wildcats (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) can clinch a spot in the conference championship game against TCU — and a chance to avenge one of their two league losses — with wins in their final two games. They can also clinch that spot with a victory over the Mountaineers and a Texas loss at Kansas on Saturday.
West Virginia (4-6, 2-5) can secure bowl eligibility — and possibly save head coach Neal Brown’s job — with victories in its final two games.
K-State’s fortunes turned dramatically with last week’s 31-3 win at Baylor. The Wildcats came into that game tied with Baylor and Texas for second place in the conference. The win over the Bears and the Longhorns’ loss to TCU put the Wildcats back into the driver’s seat.
“A lot of the things happened that we needed to have happen to be successful,” head coach Chris Klieman said Tuesday. “(Defeating Baylor) was a big win on the road against a really talented team.
“We have to do the same thing this week.”
Klieman said that backup Will Howard will be the starting quarterback while noting that Adrian Martinez is “not out for the season” with a leg injury. Howard has been brilliant so far this season in his appearances.
In three games (two in relief of an injured Martinez), Howard is 53-of-84 (63.1 percent) for 717 yards and nine touchdowns, with just one interception. His nine touchdowns are three more than Martinez has in nine games.
“It’s his football team,” Klieman said. “Everybody knows Will has been playing at a high level. I don’t think it changes (his preparation) at all. He’s a young player, but he’s played a lot of games. I don’t think he’ll go about it any differently.”
West Virginia kept its postseason hopes alive with a come-from-behind 23-20 victory over Oklahoma last Saturday. Casey Legg’s 25-yard field goal as time expired gave the Mountaineers their first victory ever over the Sooners at home.
“Huge win,” Brown said. “Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, there have been several really good football teams and great players here, but this team is the first to get it done. Proud of the staff and proud of the players for getting that done.”
The Mountaineers have a decision at quarterback. Garrett Greene replaced starter JT Daniels, who was ineffective in the first half against Oklahoma. Greene was responsible for all three WVU touchdowns, two with his legs and the other with his arm. He ran for a career-best 119 yards on 14 attempts and was 12-of-22 passing for 138 yards through the air.
“We knew if we were going to win the game, the only (way) we were going to win the game was by controlling the clock and running the football,” Brown said after the game. “They really started pressuring us early in the game with edge pressure.
“A running quarterback is a much better answer for that. (Greene) still made some mistakes, but we were able to get out of some of those. I’m happy for him. He waited his time, and he didn’t complain. He went in there and did a nice job.”
–Field Level Media