- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - When he was a graduate assistant at Kansas, Clint Bowen was on a date at an ice cream shop with his now-wife when she asked him about his goal in life. Trying to impress her, he thought big: He wanted to be the Jayhawks’ head coach.

Two decades later, he has the interim tag, getting appointed after head coach Charlie Weis was fired Sunday. Bowen will lead the Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) for the first time on Saturday when they play at West Virginia (2-2, 0-1).

Bowen grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, played defensive back for the Jayhawks and has spent 16 years on the coaching staff, some of it as defensive coordinator.

He’ll still be making the calls on defense. That knowledge will be put to the test against West Virginia, whose offense has produced a pair of 600-yard games.

“It’s a great challenge, great opportunity for us to head to Morgantown and play a team that’s playing well, playing competitive, and for our guys to go there and get after it and show everyone what our brand of football is going to be,” Bowen said.

That brand over the next two months could determine whether Bowen will be considered for the job permanently.

Bowen hinted that he’s tweaked both the offense and defense. Kansas had failed to score a touchdown in two of its past three games, including a 23-0 loss to Texas at home last week.

“Everything won’t be the same,” Bowen said. “We’re going to continue to try and be as creative as we can on both sides of the ball and give our kids a chance.”

One thing’s for sure. Bowen has the backing of his players, as evidenced by the loud, prolonged applause he received when he was introduced at a team meeting Sunday.

“I was really excited that he’s getting this opportunity,” linebacker Ben Heeney said, “because I think he deserves it.”

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen expects the heavy-underdog Jayhawks to respond positively to the change on the field.

“We are anticipating a Kansas team to come in here to be energetic, enthusiastic and excited to play this football game,” Holgorsen said. “In addition to that, I doubt they’re going to be very scared of us based on what happened last year. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Kansas snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak a year ago by beating the Mountaineers 31-19 in Lawrence, Kansas.

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Here’s some things to know about the Jayhawks and Mountaineers:

KEEPING COZART: Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart has Bowen’s backing despite throwing four interceptions against Texas. “His teammates respect him, his teammates trust him,” Bowen said. “It’s not always going to be perfect.”

CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS: West Virginia’s Kevin White leads the Big 12 with 42 receptions for 633 yards, an average of 158 yards per game. Teammate Mario Alford has a team-high four TD catches and has 28 catches for 307 yards. Three other West Virginia receivers have at least 10 catches. Quarterback Clint Trickett leads the Big 12 with 400 passing yards per game.

GROUND CONTROL: Finding holes on the line of scrimmage could be the key for Kansas on offense. The Jayhawks’ De’Andre Mann and freshman Corey Avery rank among the league’s top 10 rushers, while West Virginia is allowing an average of 199 yards on the ground. The Mountaineers have yet to recover an opponent’s fumble, while Kansas has yet to lose a fumble.

SPECIAL TEAMS WOES: West Virginia allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown against Oklahoma, a week after giving up a punt return for a score against Maryland. West Virginia is second-worst nationally on punt returns, allowing 24.3 yards per attempt, and 11th worst on kickoffs, allowing 26 yards per try.

ROAD UNFRIENDLY: Kansas has lost 25 straight road games dating to the 2009 season. On their last trip to Morgantown, the Jayhawks lost to West Virginia 59-10 in 2012.

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