AMES, Iowa — The matchup of the year in Big 12 appears to be just a little over a week away, when sixth-ranked Kansas State travels to face No. 5 West Virginia.
To make the showdown a reality, West Virginia needs to win this week at Texas Tech. And the unbeaten Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) need to beat Iowa State, which isn’t the pushover it used to be.
Just ask Oklahoma State about that.
Kansas State emerged as a serious threat to the win the league title after it beat preseason favorite Oklahoma in Norman and crushed rival Kansas 56-16 last week. While it’s tempting to look ahead to their matchup against the Mountaineers, the Wildcats know that overlooking Iowa State (4-1, 1-1) is a terrible idea.
The Cowboys were the last top 10 team to visit Ames, and their loss here last November ruined their national title hopes.
“They offer a challenge to virtually anybody they play. Certainly they will for us,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said of the Cyclones.
That might all be true. But the Wildcats have looked about as strong as anyone in the country so far.
Collin Klein has been the kind of quarterback Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads would love to have for his run-based spread attack. Klein is completing 67 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns against just a pair of picks. On the ground, Klein has 405 yards and seven more TDs.
Kansas State certainly has other weapons, most notably star tailback John Hubert, who is second in the Big 12 with 527 yards rushing and eight TDs. But the key is stopping Klein, which has proven difficult.
“Klein is a very big man,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. “He’s a very smart football player. He’s a very strong football player.”
It’s no surprise that Kansas State is also among the best defensive teams in the Big 12.