Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

October 15, 2012

Column: WVU's flop was a real shocker

MORGANTOWN — Texas Tech’s 49-14 upset of West Virginia Saturday in Lubbock, Texas, certainly was a severe shocker.

The Mountaineers unexpectedly, as a 3 1/2-point favorite, performed pitifully in all three play phases. You could never tell at any time that they were the nation’s No. 5-ranked football team.

West Virginia (5-1, 2-1 Big 12), surely will tumble several spots in the polls, while the Red Raiders (5-1, 2-1) jump into the Top 25 after having been unranked.

If head coach Dana Holgorsen and his staff really prepared the team well enough to win, you had to wonder why it didn’t execute the game plan with any semblance of competiveness, much less success.

This is the worst defeat on the road since Oct. 26, 1991, at Penn State, 51-6. The previous worst conference loss was to No. 1 Miami, 47-10 in Morgantown on Sept. 22, 2001.

There are those who thought the victories against Baylor and Texas should be among the Mountaineers’ all-time greatest wins. But what happened at Texas Tech is at least a candidate for “all-time worst defeats.”

West Virginia still is in need of considerable improvement on defense. It has given up more than 500 passing yards and the same for total offense twice this season for the first time.

In Saturday’s game, each team had 12 offensive possessions. WVU gave up the ball five times on fourth down and punted four times. Texas Tech had six passing touchdowns and the other rushing.

The Red Raiders also turned the ball over on downs.

The lopsided loss snapped the Mountaineers’ nine-game winning streak, dating back to last year.

The 14 points also were the fewest scored under coach Holgorsen.

After the game, he told reporters, “The bottom line is: They played better than we did on all three sides of the ball. They outcoached us and they played harder than we did.

“We just didn’t play very well. They were the better team today.”

West Virginia had averaged 52 points and 571 yards in its first five games. But on Saturday the Mountaineers managed only 428 yards in total offense to Tech’s 686.

The Red Raiders finished with a 30-25 edge in first downs, and 513 to 295 in passing yards and 173 rushing yards to 133.

WVU quarterback Geno Smith had one of his poorest afternoons. He completed 29 of 55 passes for 293 yards and only one touchdown.

Tech quarterback Seth Doege connected on 33 of 43 passes for 513 yards and six TDs. He threw one interception.

Tavon Austin was WVU’s top receiver with nine receptions for 117 yards. J.D. Woods caught seven passes for 79 yards and Stedman Bailey six for 61 yards.

Freshman Andrew Buie led WVU in rushing with 21 carries for 71 yards.

Texas Tech was so dominating that it had to punt just once. The Mountaineers punted four times.

There are some who suggest that the back-to-back trips to Texas within an eight-day span might have been a factor in the Mountaineers’ embarrassing flop.

But they can’t worry about that now. Kansas State, Big 12 toughie, visits Morgantown next Saturday night for another conference contest.

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