Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

October 22, 2012

Holgorsen, WVU at a crossroads

What a difference a couple of weeks can make.

Two weeks ago, West Virginia was on top of the college football world. The Mountaineers, coming off a win at Texas in front of the biggest crowd a WVU football team had ever seen, were 5-0, ranked No. 5 in the country, and quarterback Geno Smith was a runaway favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

Now, WVU (5-2) is hanging on at No. 25 in the latest Associated Press Poll, and Smith, who has thrown just two touchdown passes in the last two games, after tossing 24 through the first five, has fallen back in the pack for college football’s biggest award.

A closer look into the lopsided losses against Texas Tech and Kansas State the last two weeks reveals that the defeats weren’t just bad, they were historically poor.

n The 55-14 loss to the Wildcats was the second-most lopsided defeat in the history of Mountaineer Field. In 1986, Don Nehlen’s Mountaineers fell to No. 1 Miami — quarterbacked by Vinny Testaverde and with Michael Irvin at wide receiver — 58-14. It was the third-worst loss in any home game, behind that Miami contest and WVU’s first-ever football game in 1891, a 72-0 loss to Washington & Jefferson.

n WVU has given up 279 points in its first seven games. It’s on pace to allow more points than any team in Mountaineer history. The most a WVU team has ever allowed in a single season is 364 in just 11 games in 1978 under Frank Cignetti. This year’s club is on pace to allow 438 points through 11 games and 478 by the time the 12-game season is complete.

By comparison, the 1996 WVU defense — with current assistant Steve Dunlap serving as defensive coordinator — gave up 156 points in 12 games. More recently, Jeff Casteel’s 2010 squad allowed 176 points in 13 games.

n WVU’s current two-game stretch is the fourth-worst in WVU history, as the Mountaineers lost by a combined 76 points to Texas Tech and Kansas State.

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