Get Ready for A New Way To Look at Football

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen promised not every Big 12 game will be like Saturday’s 70-63 shootout victory against Baylor, but he did confirm that what we saw was the culture of the Big 12.

He said he tried to warn all of us East football lifers that we were in for a bit of a shock.

”Lot of fast-paced stuff, lot of skill players,” he said.

He was right.

Most of us grew up hearing running the ball and playing sound defense wins championships. We saw it with the Steelers. With Penn State. In the mirror.

If a snapshot of the Big 12 is a receiver covering 87 yards in about 3 seconds for a touchdown, it was a linebacker with a tooth missing, the result of a career full of hard hits, that told the story of football in the east.

For West Virginia fans, ready or not, that’s a thing of the past.

Still, even Holgorsen figures what we saw Saturday was a bit on the extreme side, even for the Track Meet 12 Conference.

”You guys witnessed the same thing that I did,” he said. ”I’ve been in this league going on 10 years. My 10th year, I’ve never been in a game like this.”

It was 1,507 yards of offense, stadium records for combined points (133), combined points in a half (70), combined offensive plays (180), opponents scoring (63), extra point attempts and attempts made (19), home team yards (807) and opponents yards (700), individual consecutive completions (14), individual touchdown passes thrown (eight), individual passing yards (655), individual completions (45), individual completion percentage, minimum 50 attempts (88), combined pass completions (74) attempts (98) and touchdown passes (13), most receptions by an opponent (17), and most receptions by a home player (14).

Frankly, it was West Liberty men’s basketball on a football field.

”It was a situation where both offenses were playing at a pretty high level and it just kinda started steamrolling,” Holgorsen said.

If you’re yearning for 3 yards and a cloud of dust, look elsewhere. The Red Bull offense is in full bore in Morgantown.

Last week’s games

Texas survived a scary one against Oklahoma State, 41-36, as Joe Bergeron scored on a 2-yard run with 29 seconds left, and the Longhorns got another fine game from quarterback David Ash (30 of 37 for 304 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception). Texas Tech’s Seth Doege threw for 331 yards and three touchdown passes against a tough Iowa State defense in a 24-13 victory, and TCU messed around and gave SMU plenty of chances, before holding on for a 24-16 victory, proof they do play defense somewhere in this league.


With Baylor falling out of the poll, five big 12 teams find listing in the AP’s latest chart. Leading the pack is Kansas State at No. 7, followed by West Virginia, which stayed at eighth, Texas jumped one to 11, TCU stayed at 15, and Oklahoma dropped one spot to 17. Texas Tech, Baylor, and Iowa State are all receiving votes.

Half of the teams in the league – Kansas State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, and West Virginia – remain unbeaten on the season.

This week’s games

Kansas at Kansas State

Oklahoma at Texas Tech

Iowa State at TCU

West Virginia at Texas

Of course, all eyes will be on that 7 p.m. WVU-Texas game on the Fox network, as it’s perhaps WVU’s most interesting road conference game in a few lifetimes.

Holgorsen vowed this one will be different.

”Texas has an unbelievable defense,” he said.

While that may be true, the Cowboys did put up 576 yards on the Longhorns defense Saturday night, with a freshman backup quarterback throwing for 301 yards in his third career game. What that means for West Virginia’s Geno Smith is slightly predictable but remains to be seen. Oklahoma State also had success running the ball, with junior running back Joseph Randle running for 199 yards on 25 carries.

So maybe it will be like last week.

Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: