Week 6 Big 12: Kansas at West Virginia Preview

Kansas (2-2) at West Virginia (2-2) Oct. 4, 4:00, Root 

Here’s The Deal: What, you dumped Charlie Weis just before he got a chance to repeat his one real win as the Kansas head coach? This is a different Mountaineer team than the one that barely showed up for the 31-19 loss in Lawrence last year, and with two weeks off to rest up after the shootout loss to Oklahoma, it’s time to get to work. The Mountaineers have the free space date against the Jayhawks this week and then Texas Tech to follow in what could make or break the season – there are still lots of big teams to deal with over the second half of the year. 

Interim Kansas head coach Clint Bowen has to try to generate a little bit of an offense out of a group that scored a grand total of three points in the losses to Duke and Texas. This is a lost year after the big changed being made up top, but there’s no pressure whatsoever. The team can’t play much worse, at least offensively, and it needs to take advantage of the situation – let loose, have fun, see what happens.

Why Kansas Might Win: Compared to the last few years, Kansas is playing some defense. The secondary has been solid and the run defense hasn’t been that bad. Duke might have done whatever it wanted in the 41-3 win, but at least the tackling has been a bit better and the big gouges haven’t been coming. The Jayhawk O can run the ball a bit, and against a WVU defense that gives up 200 yards a game on the ground, there could be a chance to control the game and the clock.

Why West Virginia Might Win: It might take two drives to put the game away. Kansas just doesn’t score. The O actually hasn’t been bad on third downs and it does a decent job of moving the chains when it gets the chance, but there’s no pop to the passing game, the running game isn’t picking up the slack, and the team simply doesn’t seem to know how to score points. The Mountaineer offense that’s third in the nation in passing, and threw well against Alabama, Maryland and Oklahoma, shouldn’t have any issues getting things moving. Kansas can’t keep up. 

Who To Watch Out For: No one is coming out and flat-out blasting Weis – at least internally – but there appears to be a collective breath of fresh air with Clint Bowen taking over. He knows this is a job interview in a lot of ways, and considering now one is expecting anything special, there isn’t that much pressure – if he does anything positive, he’s a god, and if he fails, it’s Charlie’s fault. Bowen is energetic, outgoing, and personable – he’s sort of the anti-Weis. Don’t be shocked if his team reflects his personality a bit. 

What’s Going To Happen: No, Kansas isn’t going to all of a sudden figure out how to play college football, but don’t be surprised if it comes up with a terrific effort and gives West Virginia a bit of a push. Bowen will have this defense humming, but it won’t be enough – the Jayhawk offense just isn’t there, at least with the passing game. 
Prediction: West Virginia 38 … Kansas 13 
Line: West Virginia -27.5 o/u: 57 
Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 2