Mountaineers in dusty west Texas
Lubbock, Texas — not exactly a luxurious destination of the rich and famous — is where West Virginia will resume its still-unbeaten tour of the 2016 season.
After trimming BYU by three points and scoring the last 14 points in a 17-16 win in Morgantown over Kansas State, the Mountaineers take a 4-0 record into their first actual road game of the season.
The opponent is Texas Tech, now 3-2 after a loss last week to Kansas State.
Texas Tech has wins over Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech and Kansas. Even in a 68-55 loss to Arizona State and last week’s loss to Kansas State, the Red Raiders have scored lots of points . . . but have given away points in gushing amounts at times.
It’s the second Big 12 game for WVU, which had hard-to-remember victories over Missouri and little Youngstown State to begin things in 2016.
Looking back at the one-point win over Kansas State in late September, the Mountaineers found themselves down,16-3, entering the fourth quarter. A seven-yard scoring catch of a Skyler Howard throw by Jovon Durante lifted WVU into a 17-16 lead . . . and when the Wildcats’ Matthew McClane missed on a 43-yard field goal attempt toward the end, West Virginia was able to run out the clock.
There were three sacks on Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz, who finished completing only 10-of-30 passes.
Freshman linebacker David Long had his first start and was credited with three tackles. Junior Elijah Battle started at cornerback because of injuries to both Antonio Crawford and Maurice Fleming.
West Virginia’s defensive coordinator Tony Gibson had his unit blitzing on almost every down, trying to compensate for the spate of injuries he had seen in the team’s first three games.
It has become obvious that the Big 12 championship race has no real favorites and only Kansas, Iowa State and Kansas State (two league losses) have put themselves in positions to play only the roles of spoilers.
Lubbock, Texas . . . once home to basketball coach Bobby Knight and his son who succeeded him as head coach of the bedraggled Red Raiders.
No tumbleweeds drifting through the downtown.
No shootouts in any of the saloons. But also no Big 12 football championships residing in the trophy cases of the football facilities.