Breaking down the West Virginia football team’s four losses to Kansas State, they all seem to be drawn back to one or two particular players.
In 2012, a 55-14 win by Kansas State in Morgantown, Heisman Trophy candidate Collin Klein picked apart the Mountaineers for 323 yards on a near-perfect 19 of 21 passing. Klein’s top target that day was Tyler Lockett, who caught nine passes for 194 yards.
"“(Klein) doesn’t do anything wrong,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “He doesn’t make any mistakes. He was the same guy we watched on film. He is exactly what we thought he’d be – he’s hard to tackle, he gets them into good plays, he doesn’t turn the ball over and you can say what you want about his throwing motion, but it goes exactly where he wants it to go. He’s a good football player.”"
That year, Kansas State started the season off 10-0 start and finished 11-1, losing to Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. Klein went 180 of 272 on the campaign for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Lockett’s performance against West Virginia in 2012 was the fifth highest single-game receiving yardage in school history. It was production that Lockett would make sure the Mountaineers never forgot.
In 2013, Lockett had touchdown catches for 9, 24 and 35 yards in a 35-13 win over West Virginia. He had eight catches for 111 yards from Jake Waters and Daniel Sams, who split time at quarterback.
The other Wildcat who helped dominate the Mountaineers didn’t come from the offense, this time around. Linebacker Ty Zimmerman led the team with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and two pass break ups.
"“They’re well-coached, they play with tremendous discipline and they play with great effort,” said Holgorsen. “They got the job done here today and we didn’t.”"
The 2014 chapter of the West Virginia-Kansas State saga saw Lockett continue his chemistry with a different quarterback. Lockett caught 10 passes for 196 yards, with a long reception of 54 yards. He wasn’t on the receiving end of a touchdown pass, but he did score on a 43-yard punt return.
"“I don’t normally do this but I went over to Lockett (after the game) and I said I’m glad you are graduating,” said Holgorsen. “That kid is just a special, special football player. He’s done it to us three years in a row – he’s as good as it gets.”"
Against the Mountaineers last year, so was Jake Waters. The quarterback went 22 of 34 through the air for 400 yards.
The Kansas State passing attack wasn’t quite as on-cue as it had been in the past against the Mountaineers, last Saturday. The Wildcats were out-gained by West Virginia, 447-304, and only had 98 rushing yards despite 49 attempts.
The Wildcats played without starting quarterback Joe Hubener for the second half and Kody Cook, normally a receiver was mediocre as the back up. But he rose to the occasion when needed. He completed just four passes, but totaled 121 yards. Cook hit Deante Burton for a long of 77 yards.
Holgorsen continued his trend of congratulating the Wildcats on their performances.
"“I shook number nineteen’s [Cook] hand out there and told him he is a gutsy kid,” said Holgorsen. “He was hurt too but battled through it and threw the ball a lot better than we thought he could. If you want to pinpoint something other than special teams it is when Cook came in there because he made a ton of plays.”"
Nobody made more plays for KSU than Morgan Burns. He took five kick returns for a total of 201 yards, including the game-winning 97-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Along with Kansas State, West Virginia has yet to beat Oklahoma in Big 12 Conference play.