MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Kansas State coach Bill Snyder prefers to find incentive from the disappointment of the Wildcats’ first Big 12 loss.
Tossed out of the conference lead after a 41-20 drubbing by No. 5 TCU two weeks ago, No. 12 Kansas State still has plenty to play for.
The Wildcats (7-2, 5-1 Big 12, No. 12 CFP) are tied for second place with Baylor and can move into a first-place tie with the idle Horned Frogs when they play at West Virginia on Thursday night.
Rather than his players dwelling on the past, “I’d like to think that it’s evolved into a determination and excitement” for West Virginia, Snyder said. “They tell me that’s where they are, but everybody’s a little bit different. It appears that they’re focused on what they’re doing, so I trust them for that.”
Kansas State is one of the nation’s better rush defenses at 127 yards per game yet allowed TCU to amass 334 yards on the ground.
Defensive back Morgan Burns said the Wildcats aren’t about to let that happen again.
“We will bounce back and show resiliency,” Burns said.
West Virginia (6-4, 4-3) has seen its own disappointment of late.
The Mountaineers became bowl eligible after eight games, a solid improvement for a team that went 4-8 a year ago. But a four-game winning streak was followed by losses to TCU and Texas that sent West Virginia tumbling to the middle of the Big 12 pack.
The Mountaineers will use the final home game for 19 seniors as motivation to try to improve their bowl standing.
“The mindset is to show the nation that we still have a lot to prove and that this season isn’t over,” said West Virginia wide receiver Jordan Thompson.
Kansas State will finish the regular season at home against Kansas on Nov. 29 and at No. 6 Baylor on Dec. 6, while West Virginia plays at Iowa State on Nov. 29.
Here are a few other things to watch for when Kansas State and West Virginia meet on a frigid night in Morgantown:
• LOCKETT VS. WHITE
Two of the nation’s top receivers are getting another chance to perform on a national stage. Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett broke his father Kevin’s school record for career receiving yards two weeks ago. The younger Lockett needs 16 catches and three TDs to break two other career records held by his dad from 1993-96. West Virginia’s Kevin White is third nationally with 1,207 receiving yards and set a school record with 16 receptions against Texas.
• STIFLED TRICKETT
West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett has been held below 300 passing yards in his last three games after surpassing 300 in eight straight games before that. He’s thrown one touchdown pass and three interceptions in the last two games. He also fumbled the ball away and was tackled in the end zone for a safety against Texas.
• MINUS THE RUN
Both teams will try to get their running backs going after recent struggles. West Virginia managed just 42 rushing yards in the first half against Texas and didn’t start piling up yards until the fourth quarter when the Longhorns had a 16-point lead. Kansas State was limited to 34 yards on 19 carries against TCU.
• WALK-ON SUCCESS
Kansas State linebacker Jonathan Truman is a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Award, a national honor given to a player who began his career as a walk-on. The senior leads the Wildcats with 85 tackles and has a fumble recovery this season.
• BACKUP SPARK
Another former Kansas State walk-on, backup quarterback Joe Hubener, has performed well in change-of-pace roles this month. The sophomore threw a 74-yard pass to Curry Sexton and had a 6-yard TD run against TCU. Hubener also had a 64-yard completion to Sexton and a short scoring run against Oklahoma State.