With Adrian Martinez injured, the Kansas State Wildcats will turn to backup Will Howard for the team’s showdown against the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday.
Per Arne Green of the The Topeka Capital-Journal, Wildcats head coach Chris Klieman told reporters on Tuesday that Howard will start in place of Martinez. The latter left Saturday’s game against Baylor with a leg injury, and though Martinez won’t play Saturday, Klieman stated his injury isn’t season-ending.
Martinez completed seven of eight pass attempts for 25 yards before leaving the game against Baylor to injury. Howard stepped in and completed 19 of 27 attempts for 196 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The No. 19 ranked Wildcats won 31-3 and improved to 3-1 on the season.
The Wheat State launched sports betting back in September, in time for the start of the 2022 NFL and NCAA football seasons. Customers in Kansas who want to take up sports betting can take advantage of a special offer from the BetMGM Kansas sportsbook, which is currently offering new customers a risk-free bet of up to $1,000 upon registering.
BetMGM lists the Wildcats as a 7.5-point favorite against the Mountaineers, with the over/under set at 54.5.
Howard has appeared in three games for Kansas State this season. He has completed 53 passes for 717 yards and nine touchdowns against only one interception to go along with 40 rushing yards and one rushing score.
Martinez, in his first season with the Wildcats, has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 1,261 yards, six touchdowns, one interception, 615 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
The Wildcats expect to have Martinez back at some point this season, but they’ll unfortunately be without one key contributor for the remainder of the year.
Per Kelles Robinett of The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star, Klieman stated that safety Kobe Savage won’t play again this season. Savage left Saturday’s game against Baylor with a knee injury.
The 5-foot-11, 206-pound safety is in his first season with the Wildcats. Savage has been a mainstay in the Kansas State secondary, recording 58 total tackles, one forced fumble and three interceptions.
Kansas State has allowed just 17.5 points per game, thanks in large part to a lockdown secondary led by Savage. With a bowl game right around the corner, Klieman and his staff will really need the rest of the defensive backs on the roster to step up.
The Wildcats will be playing in a bowl game. The only question is which game they’ll play in, and who the opponent will be.
Last season, Klieman and the Wildcats faced LSU in the Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Wildcats soundly defeated LSU 42-20, thanks to Deuce Vaughn’s epic four-TD game performance.
Multiple writers and media outlets are projecting a Kansas State appearance in the Sugar Bowl, including Kerry Miller of Bleacher Report, Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, Oliver Hodgkinson of Pro Football Network, Scott Rabalais of NOLA.com.
Miller, Palm and Rabalais all predict a Sugar Bowl matchup between LSU and Kansas City, while Hodgkinson projects a showdown between the Wildcats and Tennessee.
The No. 6 ranked Tigers have enjoyed a phenomenal bounce-back season under first-year head coach Brian Kelly. Jalen Daniels has flourished in Kelly’s offense, posting 2,080 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, just two interceptions and team-leading totals with 629 rushing yards and 10 rushing scores.
LSU’s stingy defense is led by linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. (7.5 sacks) and defensive end B.J. Ojulari (five sacks). B.J.,the brother of New York Giants standout pass rusher Azeez Ojulari, is widely expected to go in the first round in next year’s draft.
Simply put, the Tigers have the personnel to slow down the Wildcats’ vaunted rushing game. Their pass rush is more than capable of breaking through the Kansas State offensive line, and their secondary matches up well against the Wildcats’ receivers.
A phenomenal season under Klieman will end with a 35-24 loss to the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl. LSU’s top players in Daniels, Perkins Jr. and Ojulari will have field days as LSU — having just missed out on qualifying for the College Football Playoff National Championship — ends 2022 on a high note.