MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — The Mountaineers are flying high at the Milan Puskar Center after making history against Oklahoma, but their focus shifts to one of their most formidable opponents of the season when they face No. 15 Kansas State. Saturday’s kickoff between the two squads is set for 2 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
West Virginia’s (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) season is on the line on Saturday as the team needs to win its remaining two games to earn a spot in a bowl game. Neal Brown’s team responded to this kind of adversity a season ago, winning its final two games to earn a spot in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. This year’s campaign isn’t quite the same, however, as the Mountaineers face two of the toughest teams in the stout Big 12 to end the campaign.
Chris Klieman’s Wildcats (7-3, 5-2) are just as (if not more) motivated to win the season out. They sit in the league’s second spot and would punch their ticket to their first ticket to the Big 12 Championship Game since 2003 with two wins.
A loss on Saturday doesn’t completely kill those hopes, but it does afford any of Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor the opportunity to swoop in and jump K-State.
Brown has had success against Kansas State at WVU, winning his first two games against the Wildcats but falling in 2021. The head coach won his only meeting with Klieman’s program in Morgantown in 2020.
Here are the biggest storylines heading into Saturday’s matchup:
All eyes on Deuce
Another Deuce is set to make a big showing in Morgantown. Unfortunately for WVU fans, this one will wear purple and gray.
Junior running back Deuce Vaughn has established himself as one of the deadliest offensive threats in the Big 12. The compact Vaughn stands 5-foot-6 tall and weighs 176 pounds, but is one of the toughest guys to tackle in the league.
“[Vaughn is] really powerful for a guy that size…he’s got an extremely strong lower body, which makes him really tough,” Brown said. “You start talking about a strike zone, right, he’s got a really narrow strike zone to be able to tackle him, and then if you go really low, he’s extremely strong lower-body wise to run through tackles.”
Vaughn is also one of quarterback Will Howard’s favorite targets. The duo has connected a team-high 38 times for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s an advanced route runner. I always think like Alvin Kamara that plays for the Saints, like he’s a really advanced route runner for a running back. Marshall Faulk with the Rams was a really advanced route runner.”
Who will get the nod for WVU?
Garrett Greene broke out against Oklahoma last week, leading the offense to three touchdown drives plus a game-winning field goal drive that ate over six minutes off the clock. The redshirt sophomore quarterback earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors despite playing just over two quarters of the game.
“He just played with a lot of fire, a lot of energy,” said WVU coach Neal Brown. “I thought he energized the stadium, I thought he energized our sideline. He’s gotten better and better and better and…when he had an opportunity, he made the most of it.”
Greene didn’t quite lock up the starting role, however. Brown kept mum on his quarterbacks on Tuesday in the lead-up to Saturday’s game.
JT Daniels has hit a rough patch, hitting over 100 yards passing just once over the last four games. The high-profile transfer continued that struggle against Oklahoma, throwing an interception in the first half, prompting WVU to trot Greene onto the field.
Brown did say that Greene earned more “opportunity” to play with the performance, but he didn’t exactly define what that will look like on the field.
“We’re going to get both of those guys ready,” Brown said.
K-State at WVU football game information
OU and West Virginia kick off at 2 p.m. ET at Milan Puskar Stadium, and the game will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Fans are encouraged to arrive at the stadium early to send off WVU’s seniors as part of the team’s Senior Day celebration.
Don’t miss an all-new episode of The Neal Brown Show which airs on affiliated Nexstar stations at 9 a.m. ET. That is followed at 10 a.m. ET by a live hour of Mountaineer GameDay, the most fun pregame show in West Virginia, on affiliated Nexstar stations. Another live hour of Mountaineer GameDay kicks off at 11 a.m. ET on AT&T SportsNet.