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Making A Statement
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West Virginia made a statement on Saturday night. The Mountaineers are ready to compete for a Big 12 Conference title.
When times got tough versus the Longhorns, the Mountaineers proved that it could get the job done. And, it proved that it didn’t have to be Heisman trophy frontrunner Geno Smith to do it.
Smith wasn’t perfect. He had two fumbles. But he was brilliant at times, too. He finished 25-of-35 for 268 yards and four touchdowns. He still hasn’t thrown an interception this year.
When times were tough, the Mountaineers had players step up at perfect times. A player like running back Andrew Buie had a big night.
He finished with 31 carries for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Prior to that game, he was criticized for not being Shawne Alston.
And when the defense needed a play on fourth down with more than eight minutes to play, it was often-criticized cornerback Pat Miller, who broke up the pass play from quarterback David Ash to receiver Mike Davis.
Call it the fourth quarter Miller came to life.
After a second fumble by Smith late in the fourth quarter that put WVU’s defense is a tough position, the Mountaineers came through. A bad snap allowed West Virginia to tackle Ash deep in the backfield, and a field goal was missed by the Longhorns to keep WVU ahead 41-38 with 5:25 left.
That same defense gave up 63 points last weekend. It stepped up when needed like top 10 teams have to on Saturday away from home.
In the last
West Virginia took so many chances on Saturday – and every single one mattered. The Mountaineers were 5-for-5 on fourth down.
On the final drive of the game, Buie sealed the deal with a touchdown and a really impressive drive. Without him, this would be a different game.
In total, the WVU defense gave up just more than 400 yards after a porous effort from a week ago. It seemed like the Mountaineers were out to prove something – that they actually could stop someone. And, for the most part, it stopped the Longhorns just enough.
I always thought this would be the game to show just how prepared West Virginia is for Big 12 play. And, the Mountaineers have come to play.
Right now, WVU is the leader to win the Big 12, and it’s hard to say otherwise. Kansas State is a good team, but the Mountaineers might outscore the Wildcats. Oklahoma will be a tough test, too.
WVU might just be a little more powerful.
With Smith under center and playmakers like Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey around, WVU is going to be a really, really hard team to beat.
If some under-the-radar players step up in crucial times like it did on Saturday, you can count the Mountaineers in the national title race.
Sure, WVU has the potential to be a national title contender. And Texas is pretty darn good, too.
This was a statement game. And the Mountaineers said: everything’s a bit better in West Virginia.