Over the last three weeks the confidence surrounding Mountaineer football has flourished. Riding a 3 game win streak behind a new offensive identity West Virginia is poised to finish the season on a five-game win streak behind a running attack that now ranks 10th in the nation in yards per game. And with 3-8 Iowa State and home this weekend and a struggling Kansas State team to follow the odds are in the Mountaineers favor.
However, there are extenuating circumstances to both games that could make this perceived cakewalk a little more difficult.
It was announced on Sunday that Iowa State had decided to part ways with head coach Paul Rhoads at the end of the season. Rhoads is no stranger to WVU as he spent seven years at Pitt. There is no love lost with Rhoads when it comes to the Mountaineers and beating WVU at home to end his tenure would be bittersweet. You ever heard the phrase “a wounded animal is the most dangerous?” I believe this applies here. Players have a tendency to play with more resolve for their coach in situations like these.
And if you recall the last time Rhoads and the Cyclones were here they beat West Virginia.
While Bill Snyder is not coaching for his job, he will undoubtedly be coaching for a bowl birth. Currently sitting at 4-6 The Wildcats play at Kansas this weekend, a game they should win. That sets up a season finale against the Mountaineers to determine if they play in the postseason. West Virginia has not beaten Kansas State as a member of the Big 12 conference. Kansas State is ranked 3rd in rushing defense in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma and Baylor. Simply running over the Wildcats may not be an option. However, the Mountaineers rank better in just about every other statistical category.
On paper the Mountaineers are the far better team in both matchups. The Mountaineers still have plenty to play for; finishing 8-4 after a terrible October would be impressive. It would be just as sweet for Dana Holgorsen and company to finish the season beating an Iowa State team that embarrassed the Mountaineers two years ago as well as capping the season with their first ever victory over the Wildcats as a member of the Big 12.
On paper these should not be competitive games, but the Big 12 is a fickle conference filled with traps. Do not expect the Mountaineers to simply run over either team these next two weeks. There is more at stake than just a victory.