Matthew McCrane, who missed a potential go-ahead 43-yard field goal with 2:08 remaining in Kansas State’s 17-16 loss at West Virginia Saturday, took the blame following the game. But this game was more about missed opportunities by the Wildcats’ offense than McCrane’s miss.
K-State had five trips inside the West Virginia 25-yard line that resulted in four field goal attempts, with only one resulting in a touchdown. The Wildcats had numerous opportunities in the third quarter to potentially deliver a deflating blow to the Mountaineers. With less than 7 minutes remaining in the third, Byron Pringle dropped a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone that would have put the Wildcats ahead by three scores. However, K-State eventually had second and goal from the 2-yard line on the same drive and failed to punch it in for a touchdown, instead settling for a 22-yard McCrane field goal to make it a 16-3 game.
K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz completed just 10 of his 30 passes with an interception. K-State consistently tried to attack the West Virginia secondary with passes of 25-plus yards that failed. In the last two meetings between these two teams, K-State has completed just 20-of-61 passes (33 percent).
K-State, which entered Saturday’s game with a Big-12 best 5.5 yards per carry, averaged just 2.9 yards per carry against the worst run defense in the Big 12. The Mountaineers’ defense came into the game allowing 5 yards per rush. In Dana Holgorsen’s previous five seasons as the head coach at West Virginia, the Mountaineers had never allowed more than 4.5 yards per carry in a season. K-State rushed for 120 yards Saturday. West Virginia came into the contest allowing 215 yards a game on the ground.
West Virginia came into this game having dominated K-State’s running game through the years. In the previous four meetings, K-State averaged just 2.5 yards per rush. No Big 12 team has defended K-State’s running game better during that time.
Overall, K-State’s offense only accumulated 286 yards of offense on 72 plays, an average of 4 yards per play. West Virginia was allowing 5.6 yards per play on the season.
The offensive struggles squandered what was a solid defensive effort by K-State. The Wildcats held the Mountaineers to just three points in the first three quarters, stopping them twice without a score inside the Red Zone. K-State’s front four pressured quarterback Skylar Howard for much of the game, forcing him into rushed throws, while also sacking him three times. West Virginia’s offensive line had only allowed one sack on the season prior to Saturday.
K-State returns home next Saturday to take on Texas Tech. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.