News, notes and quotes on Kansas’ matchup against West Virginia at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. This marks the Jayhawks’ (0-10, 0-7 Big 12) first home game in three weeks with KU coming off a gritty 23-17 loss at TCU last Saturday. The Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4), meanwhile, are back on the road after winning their last two home contests against Texas Tech (31-26) on Nov. 7 and Texas (38-20) on Nov. 14 while breaking their four-game winless streak.
West Virginia leads the all-time series with Kansas 3-1. The two teams first met in 1941 when WVU won 21-0. It wasn’t until 71 years later when the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 that the squads met again in Morgantown on Dec. 1, 2012, when West Virginia crushed Kansas 59-10.
In WVU’s only trip to Lawrence, KU won 31-19 on Nov. 16, 2013, which broke a 27-game conference winless streak.
KU has the edge historically Saturday with the home team winning in all four games played in the series.
SMALLWOOD LEADING OFFENSIVE ATTACK
Kansas must contain WVU’s star running back Wendell Smallwood. He leads the team and ranks second in the league and No. 14 nationally with averaging 124.3 yards per game (1,119 rushing yards) while scoring six touchdowns.
He’s part of an offensive attack which ranks No. 6 in the Big 12 and No. 42 nationally in scoring offense (33.0), while the Mountaineers rank No. 6 in the league and No. 34 in total offense (452.0).
The Mountaineers have bolstered their ground game during their last two victories over Texas Tech and Texas. With Smallwood leading the way with 163 yards and Rushel Shel also delivering 111 yards, WVU amassed 300 rushing yards against the Red Raiders. Smallwood then broke that career high with 165 yards versus Texas as West Virginia recorded 257 rushing yards.
KU coach David Beaty knows that WVU head coach Dana Holgerson will likely keep pounding it away on the ground after traditionally being a pass-happy team.
“They've turned into a run, play action pass football team,” Beaty said. “They saw something against Texas because they ran right at them, and they had a lot of success doing it. They've got some really good players. And Dana is going to find your weakness. And you better be able to find a way to stop him, because if not, he'll pour it down your throat the entire day. So we've got to do a good job of matching wits with him, which is going to be difficult, because he's a great football mind.”
ONE MORE WIN TO GO BOWLING
With five wins, WVU needs a win against KU to become bowl eligible.
“There is plenty of motivation for those guys coming into this game this week,” Beaty said. “They're a good football team, and they're getting better. You can see them improving. This is no small task for us. It's no different than playing any other Big 12 games. I just want to caution folks that they are all good in this conference. At any given time any of them can take off.”
DON’T PASS ON ME
WVU has a dangerous pass defense, which has has helped the Mountaineers rank No. 8 nationally and No. 2 in the Big 12 in turnovers gained (22). The pass defense has picked off 16 passes, leading the league in one fewer game than No. 4 ranked Oklahoma State (15 interceptions).
Karl Joseph has intercepted five passes, while Daryl Worley has picked off four, in addition to his team-high 10 breakups. Worley leads the league and ranks No. 11 in the FBS in passes defended per game (1.6).
WYMAN DOES IT ALL
KU junior Matthew Wyman handled all four kicking duties last week against TCU (field goal, kickoffs, punting and PATs), and is now one of just four kickers in the FBS who are responsible for all four kicking duties. The others are Lumi Kaba (Texas State), Rigoberto Sanchez (Hawaii) and Austin Rekhow (Idaho).
Wyman made a 42-yard field goal, converted two PATs, and averaged an impressive 43.4 yards on 11 punts against the Horned Frogs.