Mountaineers Must Get Better Before Saturday

West Virginia’s so-so offensive performance in Saturday’s 31-21 victory against Maryland left a few folks wondering: Can West Virginia beat the good teams in the Big 12 with a showing like that?

”Maryland’s a good team,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. ”That’s the same caliber of ball. We’ve got to get better. I don’t think we put our best foot forward on all three sides the ball, but we still found a way to win and that’s the sign of a good team.”

The Mountaineers gained 363 yards and gave up 351. Were it not for a first-quarter scoop and score by linebacker Doug Rigg, they might have been biting their fingernails at the end of the game.

They had just 33 rushing yards.

”I’m as critical as anybody when it comes to what we do offensively,” Holgorsen said. ”We didn’t play very good, but we played a better opponent. That was the best defense we played this year. We just didn’t do a very good job.”

They’ll have to get better in a hurry because the Big 12 is coming, beginning at noon Saturday against a ranked (25th) and unbeaten Baylor team that is fifth nationally in scoring offense at 51.3 points per game and sixth in yards per game (586.7). Then again, its defense is ranked 113th, giving up 492 yards per game. Baylor is one six Big 12 teams ranked in the AP’s top 25 this week.

The Bears, who beat Louisiana-Monroe 47-42 last Friday night behind 351 yards and a career-best four touchdown passes by Nick Florence, have won nine in a row dating back to last season.

Non-conference games nearing end

Mercifully, there are just two nonconference games left for Big 12 teams this season – TCU plays Southern Methodist this weekend and Oklahoma plays Notre Dame on Oct. 27.

To this point, the Big 12 is 25-3 in non-conference games, with the average score being 47-15. Seven teams have yet to lose a game anywhere. Oklahoma State lost one out of conference and Kansas is, well, Kansas with a 1-3 record.

Last week’s games

There was one league game last weekend, and its result may have come as a surprise.

Bill Snyder’s Kansas State Wildcats went into Norman, Ok., a two-touchdown underdog and came out with a 24-19 victory against then-No. 6 Oklahoma behind 130 rushing yards from John Huber and Jarell Childs’ fumble return for a touchdown.

TCU continued to struggle in the red zone and its defense gave up its first touchdown of the season, but it didn’t matter as the Frogs ran their FBS-best winning streak to 11 straight with a 27-7 victory against Virginia. They have the nation’s best defense in terms of scoring, as teams are averaging just 4.3 points per game against them.

Northern Illinois rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter to defeat Kansas 30-23, sending the Jayhawks to their 16th straight road loss.


Kansas State’s impressive victory allowed it to leap to No. 7 in the AP poll – tops among Big 12 teams. West Virginia fell one spot to eighth despite beating Maryland; Texas stayed at 12; TCU jumped two spots to 15; Oklahoma dropped from sixth to 16th; and Baylor entered at 25. Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are all receiving votes.

This week’s games

Baylor at West Virginia

TCU at Southern Methodist

Texas Tech at Iowa State

Texas at Oklahoma State

Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: