By JOHN WICKLINE
For The Intelligencer
MORGANTOWN Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday his West Virginia guys can ill afford to overlook a 1-10 Kansas team, as the Jayhawks are the conference's top running team.
Kansas has dropped 10 straight games after opening the season with a victory against FCS-foe South Dakota State, but most of those losses have been by a touchdown or less.
"If we relax and feel good (about being bowl-eligible), then we're going to get beat," Holgorsen said. "If our guys have learned anything at all this year, it's that they better be ready to play."
Kansas is led by the running back duo of James Sims (956 yards) and Tony Pierson (730 yards).
"We've morphed away from being a 50-50 team to being a run-first team," Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. "We have to figure out ways to stay one step ahead of the posse, so we're not dialing up the same plays every time because we haven't been lighting it up with the passing game."
Despite being the best team in the Big 12 Conference when it comes to running the ball, Kansas is the worst team when it comes to winning.
"Every game they've played, they've been competitive," WVU quarterback Geno Smith said. "Some have even come down to the wire. They are starving for a win, and we're next on their list."
The two teams hook up for the first time since WVU defeated Kansas 21-0 in Morgantown in 1941. WVU snapped a five-game skid last weekend at Iowa State, and it is looking to start a positive streak in an effort to improve the postseason picture. The game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and FSN will televise the contest.
The Mountaineers, 6-5 overall and in seventh place in the 10-team conference with a 3-5 mark, has played well against the run this season. The key for the much maligned defense will be to figure out if and when the Jayhawks will be running the football.
"Kansas is a difficult team because they have a new offense every week," defensive back Darwin Cook said. "They have about five different offenses they can us. We have to prepare for every offense. We won't know what they will be in until the first drive, and then we can put in our game plan."
WVU linebacker Jared Barber said he is looking forward to facing the Kansas challenge.
"I didn't know until this week that they are actually first in the Big 12 in rushing," he said. "I'm pretty excited to see how we will do since we've played well against the run this year. We just have to stay grounded and disciplined. We need to tackle everybody and hold everybody in."