Kansas State quarterback Colin Klein is a different animal.
At 6 feet 5, 226 pounds, he has rushed for more touchdowns than he has thrown -- 10 to 7 -- and runs the kind of possession offense that could be a nightmare for West Virgina's quick-strike style.
Welcome to the game of the season for the No. 17 Mountaineers.
A win against No. 4 Kansas State could catapult the Mountaineers back into the national spotlight and put them right back in the Big 12 Conference title race.
- Matchup: Kansas State (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) vs. West Virginia (5-1, 2-1), 7 p.m. today, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.Va.
- TV, Radio: WPGH; Mountaineer Sports Network; Sirius 91, XM 91.
- West Virginia: QB Geno Smith completed 30 of 56 at Texas Tech and will look to rebound from a loss. ... WR Tavon Austin was shut out from the end zone vs. Texas Tech for the first time this season but leads the team in receptions with 68. ... WR Stedman Bailey, who leads the team with 14 touchdowns, is questionable along with DE Will Clarke. CB Brodrick Jenkins is out. ... Two freshmen WRs, Travares Copeland and Devonte Robinson, are expected to play.
- Kansas State: Led by QB Colin Klein, who has rushed for 10 touchdowns, thrown 7. ... Klein has a 66.9 completion percentage and a 159.59 in passing efficiency. ... RB John Hubert has scored 8 rushing touchdowns, and picked up 606 yards on the ground. ... KR Tyler Lockett ranks No. 8 in Division I-A in returns with a 30.7 yard average. ... DE Adam Davis has 4 tackles for losses and DE Meshak Williams has 6.
- Hidden stat: In 2011, Klein became one of just four QBs from Bowl Championship Series conference schools to score 20 rushing TDs and throw 10 passing TDs in the same season. He joined Cam Newton (Auburn '10), Tim Tebow (Florida '07) and Eric Crouch (Nebraska '00).
It all comes down to containing Klein, or, as he's nicknamed: Optimus Klein, after the Transformers character Optimus Prime.
"[Klein] is an amazing athlete. Probably one of the best players in the country," West Virginia co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said. "You see people try to defend him several different ways and he's still successful. They create such a different challenge than last week [at Texas Tech]. So we've got to switch gears and prepare differently."
Klein had 228 yards of total offense Sept. 22 while scoring the go-ahead touchdown that beat Oklahoma, 24-19.
He doesn't have best arm in college football, but has accumulated 1,074 passing yards, completed 79 of 118 passes and thrown just two interceptions.
He has rushed for 510 yards.
"You look at them throwing the ball, and it doesn't look very good, but it goes exactly where you want it to go," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. "He is averaging 100 yards a game and doesn't make any mistakes. We try and junk up the box and stop the run and put more people in there, but then you are weak on the outside. He throws it to those fast guys outside, and we have to make plays out there."
Adding to the intrigue, Klein trails West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in several Heisman Trophy straw polls, making it the quarterback matchup of the season so far.
Smith wants no part in comparing the two.
He and his teammates are coming off their worst performance of the season, a 49-14 loss to Texas Tech, and have labeled the game as a must-win.
"Every game is a must-win for us, especially in college, we don't have the luxury of a playoff system," Smith said. "If you want to be right there at the end, win it all, you have to win. We lost one, but our goals are still in reach, but this is a must-win for us."
West Virgina's defense was torched at Texas Tech, but could the Wildcats run-oriented offense be a better match?
The Mountainers rank 118th in Division I-A in passing defense, but are a respectable No. 43 in rushing defense.
Either way, DeForest said, they are moving on from a week ago.
"We have a lot of things to correct, but they're all correctable. Our kids saw that on tape, we pointed out the things that needed to be corrected technique-wise," DeForest said. "But we've got a huge challenge ahead of us and we have to move ahead."wvusports