Kansas State-West Virginia primer

No. 12 Kansas State. West Virginia. A great Thursday night battle played in awful weather, with temperates expected to drop below freezing by kickoff. Both teams are coming off losses followed by bye weeks, so they should come out hot. Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson break down the matchup:

How Kansas State can control the game: If the Wildcats follow the blueprint that has become the standard for Bill Snyder's program, KSU should be in good shape, even in a tough road environment. A chilly night with the possibility of snow could play right into the hands of a Kansas State offense that leans on its running game and efficient third down conversions. Defensively, limiting the Mountaineers big plays, particularly early, could be the difference between controlling the tempo of the game or being forced to try to chase Dana Holgorsen's team from behind. -- Chatmon

How West Virginia can control the game: The Mountaineers play a lot better defense than they probably get credit for, and they made life tough for both Baylor and TCU in Morgantown because neither could operate at the speed and pace they prefer. Nobody has shut down K-State offensively the way that TCU did two weeks ago. Bet on KSU bringing some new wrinkles and a recommitment to the run game off their bye week. WVU has to respond well and get a takeaway or two to swing this game their way. -- Olson

Kansas State's X factor: Receiver Curry Sexton's emergence has been huge for K-State's offense. Sexton's 53 receptions for 723 yards and four touchdowns makes defenses account for his playmaking skills and opens up opportunities for Tyler Lockett. Jake Waters joins Lockett as a proven playmaker in the offense and Sexton's emergence makes the Wildcats even more difficult to handle. -- Chatmon

West Virginia's X factor: In addition to the homefield travel advantage and the uncomfortable weather, it's the Mountaineers' ability to score quickly with not only Kevin White but also speedster Mario Alford. White caught 16 passes against Texas but was kept relative in-check in terms of his big-play ability, and so was Alford. On a brutally cold night in which both team need to run, a couple huge pass plays can swing this game. -- Olson

What a win would mean for Kansas State: It would keep the Wildcats Big 12 title hopes alive and pass the biggest test they'll face before heading to Baylor on Dec. 6. K-State would secure, at the very least, a Big 12 co-championship with three wins in its final three games and a win tonight would be a terrific first step. -- Chatmon

What a win would mean for West Virginia: Burning couches, of course, and the satisfaction of knowing they've dethroned another one of the conference's best at Milan Puskar. Beating K-State would likely mean an 8-4 season for Holgorsen's squad and one heck of a turnaround after last year's frustrating 4-8 year.