|West Virginia's talented senior class, including WR Tavon Austin, will play its final home game Saturday. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports Net)
Spread: West Virginia by 20
Watchability: In early October, may in Morgantown probably thought this game would be a chance to sew up another trip to a BCS bowl game. Instead, the Mountaineers didn't even get bowl eligible until last week, when a late Tavon Austin touchdown gave WVU a 31-24 win at Iowa State. Kansas has nothing to play for but pride. West Virginia may be looking for a marginal bowl upgrade. Simply put, there are plenty of better games to watch Saturday.
Shining stars: Kansas -- RB James Sims. The Jayhawks use a rotation at running back, but Sims leads the group. Before KU's last game -- a Nov. 17 loss to Iowa State -- he had topped 100 yards rushing in six consecutive games. For Kansas to have a chance, Sims will likely have to have a performance like he did against Oklahoma State (138 yards on 27 carries) or Texas (176 yards on 28 carries). West Virginia -- WR/KR/RB Tavon Austin. How many more big plays can the senior make in his career? Just after Iowa State took the lead in the fourth quarter last week, WVU called for its trademark jet sweep "touch pass" to Austin, who did the rest, taking it 75 yards for a touchdown. He again saw plenty of time in the backfield, running for 74 yards on 14 carries, as coaches look for as many ways as possible to get the elusive speedster the ball.
Who could steal the show: Kansas -- RB Tony Pierson. Pierson doesn't get as many carries as Sims, but he's every bit as effective when he does have the ball. He is averaging almost 12 yards per carry over his last three games, including a 202-yard outburst against Texas Tech. Can KU's one-two punch at RB prove effective against WVU's run defense, which gives up only 141.18 yards per game? West Virginia -- RB Shawne Alston. Coaches surprised just about everyone by putting Alston on the field early and often at Iowa State. The senior had been extremely limited since the second game of the season due to a severe thigh bruise, but bounced back in a big way at ISU, rushing for a career-high 130 yards on 19 carries.
You going? Ranking the road trip: It's Senior Day in Morgantown, and Mountaineers fans will say goodbye to a talented senior class that includes Austin, Alston and QB Geno Smith among many others. Still, given WVU's midseason five-game losing streak, there's a distinct lack of buzz surrounding this game, and tickets were still available as of Wednesday.
Magic number for Kansas: 10/10/2009. That was the date of KU's last win against a current Big 12 member, as the Jayhawks beat Iowa State 41-36 on that date to cap a 5-0 start to a season that finished at 5-7. Since then, Kansas is a staggering 1-31 in Big 12 games (the win came against Colorado, now a Pac-12 member, in 2010). If players don't want to hear about that streak for another offseason, this is their last chance.
Magic number for West Virginia: 3.55. That's the average yardage Mountaineers opponents are gaining per carry this season. Run defense has been a relative strength for this WVU team, while the pass defense still ranks No. 120 nationally, giving up 346.18 yards per game through the air. Kansas has one of the nation's worst pass offenses though (113th, 151.55 yards per game), so this matchup seems to suit West Virginia better than most.
The game comes down to: Do the Mountaineers feel they have something to play for? Coach Dana Holgorsen said on Tuesday that there is a big difference between a 7-5 record and a 6-6 finish. Do the players feel the same way? Kansas has shown it can compete this season, with a 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State, a 21-17 loss to Texas and a 41-34 loss in double OT to Texas Tech. If WVU expects to just show up and win, the Jayhawks could spoil Senior Day.
Prediction: West Virginia 45, Kansas 24
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter. You can also follow C.J. (@cjmoore4) and Patrick (@patricksouthern).