MORGANTOWN - When your team is 4-7 (2-6 Big 12) on the season, even a 2-9 opponent causes concerns.
Especially if your defense is surrendering 31.6 points and 444.1 yards per contest and the opponent is coming off of a 34-0 whitewashing of a Kansas team that handed you a 31-19 setback just two weekends ago.
That will be the case, however, when West Virginia entertains Iowa State at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mountaineer Field on Senior Day.
"I would say so," defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said on Tuesday. "We have tremendous respect for coach Paul Rhoads as a coach and as a leader. His team, when you watch them play, it's not like you see a team that has only won two football games.
"They play with emotion and passion. They play hard, and they're fundamentally sound. I think that's a reflection of coach Rhoads' leadership."
Making the task even more difficult for Patterson and his prevent unit is the apparent fact that the Cyclones have found their quarterback.
"It's pretty much the same song, just a different verse," Patterson continued. "You've got a running quarterback. They've developed an identity of who they want to become as a team. They've become more consistent.
"Even though the Oklahoma score got a little big lopsided, it was 10-10 in the second quarter. They were playing well and having success moving the football. They present some challenges, because they can go big or they can spread the field and get in multiple formations. It's like anything-they rotate the running backs, and we have to stop the run. We have to make them one dimensional."
Something the defense wasn't able to accomplish in the Mountaineers' stunning 31-19 loss to a Kansas Jayhawks team that had failed to record a Big 12 victory in its last 27 tries.
The Jayhawks' James Smith rushed for a game-high 211 yards and three touchdowns as KU piled up 315 yards on the ground on 54 carries.
Compounding the problem was the elusive KU freshman quarterback Montell Cozart, who added 60 yards on 13 carries.
"They (ISU) will try to take the run away and we will try to take theirs away," head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We've had relative success with that. There's a trend where a lot of teams' rushing yards are coming from their quarterbacks.
"A lot of rushing yards Iowa State is giving up are from quarterbacks. We obviously don't have that ability right now. We're not going to try to get 300 yards rushing with the quarterback. We're going to do what we do, which is try to establish the run."
That won't be a problem for the Cyclones as sophomore quarterback Sam B. Richardson has rushed for 356 yards and two scores on 101 carries thus far. The 205-pounder carried the ball 18 times for 119 yards in last year's loss to the Mountaineers.
Giving the visitors a two-headed monster at the position will be freshman Grant Rohach, who has completed 85-of-152 attempts for 877 yards and four touchdowns since breaking into the Cyclones' lineup.
"It's tough, because we're not going to a bowl game," linebacker Tyler Anderson, who is one of 14 seniors who will be playing their final game in the old gold and blue, said. "Those seniors have gone through changes from the Big 12 to the Big East. We've made that transition. It's kind of hard to think about what you're going to be remembered as, since we're not having the greatest season.
"But, we want to go out with a win this week."
Helping those chances, at least on the defensive side of the ball, will be the return of senior linebacker Doug Rigg.
"I told them (the coaches) I'm going to be honest with them," Rigg said. "If I felt something, I was going to tell them immediately. It wasn't something I was going to play around with. It's my last game here, so it would mean a lot for me to play."
Questionable for Saturday's 4 p.m. kickoff will be senior defensive back Darwin Cook, who leads the team in tackles (74) and interceptions (4), sophomore linebacker Isaiah Bruce and freshman cornerback Daryl Worley.
"I've talked to some of the younger kids about whatever happens, happens," Anderson said. "You still have to go out there and play football. At WVU, you're representing a lot of people who came before you. That's what they have to continue to do."