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Kansas St. routs West Virginia, 55-14

By Kellis Robinett, The Kansas City Star –

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — College football fans across the country tuned in Saturday night expecting to see one of the most entertaining games of the day.

They ended up watching a Kansas State masterpiece.

By defeating West Virginia 55-14 in front of 60,101 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium, the No. 4 Wildcats improved to 7-0 and 4-0 in the Big 12, adding another statement victory to their already impressive resume. With road wins over the No. 17 Mountaineers, 5-2 and 2-2, and the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners, K-State now has a stranglehold on the race for a Big 12 championship.

And the Wildcats are in position for much, much more.

Saturday might go down as the most significant night in recent memory for the program. Things went perfectly from start to finish, with K-State proving itself as a serious national championship contender and quarterback Collin Klein establishing himself as the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.

Many believed he trailed West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith for the award. But while Smith was unable to produce gaudy stats against K-State’s defense, Klein put up huge numbers. He outplayed Smith in every way. Not only was he mistake-free, he delivered highlight after highlight on his way to 321 yards passing, 43 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns.

With West Virginia’s defense concentrating on K-State’s running game, practically daring Klein to throw the ball, he showed off his arm. Klein dropped back into the pocket and calmly completed 19 of 21 passes.

He was at his best in the first half, hitting freshman Tyler Lockett for big gains across the middle and delivering a perfectly thrown fade pass to him in the corner of the end zone. But Klein was impressive after the break, too.

Not surprisingly, Lockett and Harper both had their finest efforts of the season. Lockett caught eight passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Harper, a senior, grabbed six passes for 95 yards and a score.

But everyone involved with K-State’s offense celebrated before the night was over. The Wildcats scored on each of its possessions before coach Bill Snyder took his foot off the gas early in the fourth quarter.

Few could imagine either side showing mercy in this battle of Heisman-contending quarterbacks, but K-State made things look easy and West Virginia look bad. The Mountaineers have now lost back-to-back games in blowout fashion.

K-State’s defense made sure they never put up a fight. West Virginia had to work for every yard, with Smith throwing for 140 passing yards and its offense failing to score a touchdown. The Mountaineers’ only score of the first three quarters came on a 100-yard kickoff return from Tavon Austin in the second quarter, which made the score 24-7.

The Wildcats were so dominant on defense that they intercepted Smith twice. Before Saturday, he had thrown 260 passes without getting picked off, but Arthur Brown and Ty Zimmerman both intercepted him in the second half.

Brown’s interception may have clinched the game. On West Virginia’s first play of the third quarter, Randall Evans tipped a pass high into the air, and Brown caught it. Klein hit Harper for a 21-yard touchdown on the ensuing possession, and K-State led 38-7.

Mountaineers fans began fleeing the stadium at that point, and whatever hopes West Virginia had for a comeback disappeared.

Klein went on to score two more touchdowns, and break Darren Sproles’ school record of 45 career rushing touchdowns. Both he and K-State likely wowed viewers along the way.

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