PREVIEW: Wildcat football looks to flip the script against West Virginia

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Then-junior running back Harry Trotter runs the ball during K-State's football game against West Virginia at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 16, 2019. The Wildcats lost to the Mountaineers with a final score of 24-20. (File Photo by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Despite the slip-up against Arkansas State in their first game of the season, the Wildcats haven’t lost again this season. The team hopes to continue that streak when facing West Virginia this Saturday, a foe that won the last four meetings between the teams.

The Wildcats — who are currently a Big 12 Conference co-leader — are off to their second-best conference start since 2014. They started that season 5-0 in Big 12 play, interrupted by a loss to Auburn.

Sophomore wide receiver and return man Phillip Brooks earned Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors with a school-record 189 punt return yards and two return touchdowns in the victory over in-state rival Kansas last weekend.

Freshman quarterback Will Howard also became the first true freshman to win in his first two starts for the Wildcats. Howard ranks eighth in the conference with 673 total yards in four games this season.

West Virginia dropped their last game against Texas Tech, 34-27. Junior quarterback Jarret Doege threw for 347 yards and one touchdowns in the loss. Junior running back Leddie Brown rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The Mountaineer defense held the Red Raiders to only 348 yards.

West Virginia boasts the best total defense in the conference — limiting opponents to 261.8 yards per game — and is the second scoring defense in the conference, holding offenses to 21.8 points per game.

Players to Watch

Junior wide receiver Chabastin Taylor is the top receiver for the Wildcats with 14 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown. If the Wildcats want to be successful in the air, Taylor will be a crucial player.

The return of senior linebacker Elijah Sullivan is an instrumental part of the Kansas State defense. Sullivan leads the team with 30 tackles on the season with one interception. That experience is critical in a matchup against a relatively young West Virginia offense.

Leddie Brown ranks third in the Big 12 in rushing with an average of 118.4 rush yards per game. Brown is tied for first in the conference in scoring with nine touchdowns on the year.

Freshman defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor has four sacks on the year, which is the second-most in the Big 12. The Mountaineers have two more defensive stars in defensive linemen: the Stills brothers. A third threat on the defense could be an issue for the Wildcat offensive line.

K-State enters the matchup as a surprising four-point underdog, and the over-under is set at 45.5. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday in Morgantown, West Virginia. The game is available on ESPN2.

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