West Virginia handles Red Raiders; Frogs are next
The hot winds of Lubbock and the passing of Patrick Mahomes were supposed to be enough to wilt West Virginia last Saturday.
But that just wasn’t the case when the still unbeaten (5-0) Mountaineers won with a lethal combination of offense, defense and special teams against the disbelieving Red Raiders.
It was 48-17. It’s not impossible to beat Texas Tech in its oven-hot environment, but nobody has handled the Red Raiders on their home grounds like the Mountaineers did. In the last six home games before West Virginia delivered a haymaker, Texas Tech had averaged 60 points a game.
Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Christian can win in the unfriendly environment in Lubbock . . . but none of them defangs the home side by 31 points.
There were 28 West Virginia first downs, 332 rushing yards, 318 passing yards and a depth-rich defense that limited Texas Tech to 379 total yards.
Mahomes was relieved of his duties with over 10 minutes to play.
Now comes Texas Christian to sold-out Puskar Stadium. The Horned Frogs were idle last Saturday in preparation for West Virginia. They are 4-2 overall, having played four home games and suffering a three-point loss to Arkansas and a 52-46 loss to Oklahoma.
The wins have been against South Dakota State, Iowa State, SMU and a difficult one-point win over lowly Kansas on Oct. 8.
Texas Christian gives up 30 points per game while quarterback Kenny Hill averages 357 passing yards each game.
There have been a growing number of playmakers on WVU’s defense, one that has done more blitzing and shown more variety than has generally been seen in the past from its three-man front.
Jarrod Harper, Kysir White, Rasul Douglas, Justin Arndt, Jeremy Tyler and Al-Raheed Benton all have between 26 and 30 tackles for the rising-in-praise defense. Douglas has two interceptions and Arndt has two sacks.
Daikiel Shorts, Shelton Gibson, Ka’Raun White and Jovonte Durante have all caught between 17 and 27 passes. Quarterback Skyler Howard shows a 119-for-180 passing chart with eight TDs and four interceptions. He throws for 318 yards per game.
Justin Crawford has run for 373 yards and Rushel Shell has 356 rushing yards.
Specialist Mike Molina has made all 20 of his extra point tries and 7-of-9 field goal attempts.
Even though there are still seven games remaining, West Virginia has shown itself to be versatile and able to cause problems for opponents with more than just Howard and his weekly pitch-and-catch and an outscore-you offense.
This game is sold out, but tickets do remain for home games against Kansas, Oklahoma and Baylor.
Now ranked 12th in one poll, the Mountaineers are gaining favor across the country . . . even if it’s little by little.