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Kansas State 26, West Virginia 20: three things we learned

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One yard. One stinking yard. Unacceptable and embarrassing.

At least the Wildcats scored a rushing touchdown.
At least the Wildcats scored a rushing touchdown.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Waters was 22-34 for exactly 400 yards with a touchdown and a completely irrelevant interception on the final play of the game, and Tyler Lockett had 321 all-purpose yards and a punt return for a score as Kansas State survived a 26-20 grinder over the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown.

The most notable fact about this game, of course: K-State won despite having exactly one yard rushing, and if you're a K-State fan you may as well settle in for about a month of being mocked for that on the internet.

Lockett had 10 catches for 196 yards, leaving him four catches and two touchdowns short of his father. He added 125 return yards to that as well.

1. There's a definite problem with the running game.

I've been arguing against this proposition for a few weeks, but I have to throw in the towel. Yes, West Virginia is stout against the run. Yes, part of the problem is that the staff is less inclined to let Jake Waters run the ball as much as he did last year.

But he led the team in carries tonight with 12 and yards with 13 (not adjusted for sacks), and the rushing output was unquestionably an embarrassment. K-State had a total of seven yards rushing on the night before trying to run out the final minute of the clock, which reduced that total back toward zero. Until their final actual drive, that yardage was in negative numbers. Charles Jones managed to get into positive yardage with a whopping four yards; DeMarcus Robinson finished with -7. K-State finished with one yard rushing.

What's to blame? The offensive line? Schemes? Play-calling? Debate at will.

2. Discipline has, inexplicably, become a problem.

"Probably as undisciplined as I can remember. We really did not play very well." Those were the words out of Bill Snyder's mouth on his way off the field, and it's impossible to argue with him.

Oh, the penalties. Cody Whitehair and Boston Stiverson were notably guilty; both were flagged on two separate infractions on one play, and together they committed a chop block which damaged a drive. Kansas State, the team that never gets flagged, got hit with 9 penalties for 97 yards. Flat-out ugly.

Not only that, this team still can't tackle. Mario Alford's fourth-quarter touchdown was also an embarrassment. But that leads us to...

3. The defense just has too much trouble getting off the field.

The Wildcats did manage to get the stops they needed to in the end, as evidenced by the final score. But West Virginia was 6-16 on third down... and 2-3 on 4th. That means 16 times, K-State had a chance to end drives, and failed ten times (counting the two West Virginia field goals).

You have to take this with some level of resignation; a win is a win, and the guys bucked down, so on, so forth. But this is what killed K-State last week against TCU, and it's what's going to kill K-State against Baylor in 16 days and in their bowl game. This team has to get it together defensively, somehow.

The end result

K-State improves to 8-2, 6-1 in the conference, and just need to handle Kansas and then knock off Baylor to share the Big 12 title. West Virginia falls to 6-5, 4-4 in the conference. If the playoff committee just looks at this as a tough road win, K-State could place themselves in an interesting position by this time two weeks from now, but can we trust them to dominate the Jayhawks? And do we have any real faith that this team can win in Waco?

We'll have to wait for the optimists to chime on on that topic.