Analysts and fans alike are both making the assumption that West Virginia will roll into Kansas and emerge victorious. Even Las Vegas has the Mountaineers as a favorite (by a touchdown) for the first time this season against a team from an automatic-qualifying conference.
Clarke knows that the defense will need to be prepared against KU.
The players, though, certainly don't feel that way.
"They're definitely a team that no one should overlook," said senior defensive end Will Clarke. "I believe they had Oklahoma or Texas Tech down 14-0, and they came out running the ball right down their throats. They’re not any different than any team we’ve played. We can’t look past them or not be prepared."
The Jayhawks' offense has struggled this season, though, scoring twenty or more points only once - a season opening win versus FCS South Dakota. That futility has helped lead to a 2-7 record overall and 0-6 mark in the Big12. While admittedly a positive for the Mountaineers, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski sees signs of life on that side of the ball for Kansas.
"It’s a good matchup, but you got to take every game (seriously). There’s no games off. It’s a good matchup, but still, they can throw the ball at any time," he said. "We're going to need a lot of people to step up for this game."
Part of that spark for Kansas has been their rotation of senior transfer Jake Heaps - a pocket passer - and true freshman Montell Cozart - a spread option runner. With the mixing of the two styles, opposing defenses have occasionally found themselves confused, but Clarke says West Virginia will be fine, as long as they do what they're told.
"It just comes from trusting in the scheme and what the coaches are teaching us," he said. "You got to watch film on not just one opponent that they play, just one personnel. As long as you cover most of the personnel that they run, we should be fine."
On the other side of the ball, Kansas has allowed Big12 opponents to score an average of 42 points per game, but again, they are competing and improving from the year before.
"They’re definitely different than the team they were last year. They’ve competed in every Big12 game, much like we have this year, and they’re going to be a challenging opponent," said quarterback Paul Millard. "Schematically the things they do on defense are a lot better than last year. They mix things up more than they used to and they definitely got some guys that can make some plays."
All of the stats and records can get thrown out of the window as far as offensive lineman Pat Eger is concerned. All he cares about is finishing his collegiate career the right way and he's ready to give his all, regardless of the opponent.
"We’re just preparing for Kansas. We want to win these next two games and go to a good bowl game. That’s all we can do now," he said. "It would mean the world to me to go out in a bowl game. I’m going to put every fiber of my body, every ounce of energy that I got to finish these last three weeks of the regular season the right way and go out with a bang."
EerSports' Alissa Hudak contributed to this article.
Already have an account? Sign In