MORGANTOWN - There was plenty of talk after West Virginia played FBS foe Norfolk State in Week 2 - and trailed 12-10 at halftime - that the Mountaineers simply overlooked the opponent.
As you can imagine, with unranked Bowling Green on its way to town a week after No. 2 LSU beat the Mountaineers in front of a frenzied, night-game crowd, they're trying really hard to make sure history doesn't repeat itself.
''If we come out with the same intensity that we came out with that first half against Norfolk where we really didn't do much, we'll lose this game,'' quarterback Geno Smith said. ''I believe that, and I think everyone around here knows that. We're going to continue to work hard and not look at who the opponent is or the names on the front of their jerseys, but work on getting better and do our job so we can go out and win this game.''
Bowling Green's Anthon Samuel is handed the ball from quarterback Matt Schilz during a game against Wyoming in Bowling Green, Ohio, Sept. 17. (AP Photo/The Blade, Lori King)
Bowling Green, which plays out of the non-automatic BCS qualifying Mid-American Conference, is off to a 3-1 start and has put up some impressive numbers, though they've come at the expense of lesser opponents.
The Falcons are 21st in the land in passing yards behind quarterback Matt Schilz (83 of 133 for 1,169 yards, 14 TDs) with two receivers - Eugene Cooper and Kamar Jorden - combining for 47 catches 640 yards and 10 touchdowns. Bowling Green is 51st in rush yards, with true freshman Anthon Samuel having run for 428 yards on 61 carries, 21st in points for (38.5 per game) and 35th in points allowed (19.8).
So the numbers look good. And the Mountaineers coaches have noticed.
''I think everybody's going to get tested,'' said WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel of his defenders. ''They spray the ball around pretty well, and they make you defend the run game. That really makes it difficult for us. They've got a really talented receiver outside (Jorden). And their flanker (Cooper) is a lot like Jock (Sanders) in that they'll get him the ball on reverses and screens, so I think they're going to challenge all of our kids.''
Bowling Green is extremely young on defense but it has been the nation's best net punting team - not a good sign for the struggling West Virginia net punting, which is dead last.
All of that mixed together presents a very real challenge for the Mountaineers on Saturday. There's no time for a letdown.
''You always have to be worried after a loss,'' head coach Dana Holgorsen said.''We would have had the same feelings had we won the (LSU) game. There was a lot of energy and anticipation. As a coach, I talked last week about you don't really have to get your guys up when playing in a game like that because they are going to be up anyway. There is a natural little hangover that comes with that whether you win or lose.''
Putting that in the past - and supplying a little help in the run game - will help.
''I'm pretty sure defenses are going to start keying on our pass,'' said Smith, who is coming off a game in which he set school records in pass attempts (65), completions (38) and yards (463). ''But we're going to stay balanced and we're going to run that ball. The line is doing a great job of blocking and they're staring to finish blocks even better. That's a tremendous step for us. Once those backs get a feel for the game and it slows down for them, it's going to be scary what this offense can do.''
Holgorsen said Andrew Buie is still day-to-day with an injury and that he liked what he saw from fellow true freshman Dustin Garrison against LSU.
''We're searching for guys that are every-down backs, which we don't have yet,'' he said. ''Dustin came in last week and gave us a half of really good football. His production in one half of football was as good of a performance we've had in one half this year.''
Garrison rushed for 46 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown in that game.
Don Nehlen Quarterback Scholarship Weekend
This weekend is Don Nehlen quarterback scholarship weekend, as presented by MedExpress, with more than 20 former Mountaineers quarterbacks are scheduled to return to campus to honor the Hall of Fame coach. Former Mountaineer signal callers Marc Bulger, Major Harris, Jeff Hostetler, Oliver Luck, Rasheed Marshall, Pat White and Fred Wyant are but a few of the greats that are scheduled to attend the weekend activities.
WVU Sports Hall of Fame
The West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame will induct its 2011 class on Saturday. The ceremony will be held in the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility at 9:30 a.m. The 2011 class includes Warren Baker (basketball), Canute Curtis (football), Joseph Harrick (football, baseball wrestling and track), Jim Heise (baseball), Pat Itanyi Williams (track) and Steve Newberry (football).