WVU Victory Against Texas Is Bigger Feat

The folks voting on the polls got it right.

Rightfully so, Kansas State had been the highest ranked Big 12 team the last few weeks.

While the Mountaineers were beating up the likes of James Madison and Marshall, Kansas State was busy blowing out Miami and beating Oklahoma on the road.

No reason not to take that seriously.

But the schedule worked against the Wildcats on Saturday.

Even when you consider Texas is a paltry 2-7 in its last nine conference games at home and winless against its last seven ranked teams anywhere, a victory in front of the largest crowd ever -101,851 – at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium far outweighs a 30-point home victory against pulseless Kansas.

Even if the team that beats Texas goes 5-for-5 on fourth down and needs every one of them to win, it’s still a much bigger feat.

So the voters were right to have West Virginia leap Kansas State and jump into No. 5 in the AP polls, one spot ahead of the Wildcats.

Five is fair, but seriously, who thinks, after what they saw Saturday night, that West Virginia isn’t one of the top two teams in the country?

They’ll say the defense, ranked 102nd in the land, isn’t good enough to be taken seriously as a national title contender.

It isn’t. But it might not need to be.

Not when the Mountaineers offense plays with the efficiency it has to this point. Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said his guys had West Virginia right where they wanted it, meaning the Mountaineers were utilizing the running game.

At the end of the night, West Virginia totaled 406 yards. If you’ve got 11 five-star recruits making a team run when it wants to pass and you still give up 400-plus yards, it’s simply a case of that offense being that good. And by good, it’s good enough to put up huge numbers against the best defenses the FBS has to offer.

West Virginia has scored 36 touchdowns through five games. National leader Oregon, the only team with more than WVU, has 43 through six games.

Time will tell how this shakes out. But for now, West Virginia is the Big 12’s best team. With its two toughest games both in Morgantown the rest of the way, the path to the league’s title goes through Star City.

With TCU losing, four teams remain ranked with four others receiving votes. Oklahoma jumped four spots to 13 and Texas fell four to 15. Baylor, Iowa State, TCU and Texas Tech are all receiving votes.

K-State and West Virginia are the lone unbeaten teams in the league.

A true passing league

How pass-dominant is the Big 12? Never mind the fact that the top four quarterbacks in the country in pass efficiency are all in the Big 12, just take a look at West Virginia running back Andrew Buie. Going into Saturday night’s game, Buie had 52 carries for 226 yards. Throw in the 31 carries and 207 yards put up on Texas, and suddenly, he’s the conference’s third-leading rusher.

And he’s just 101 yards off the leader, Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle.

The league’s 10th-ranked rusher, who has played four games, Texas’ Malcom Brown, has 245 yards. Pat White, Steve Slaton, Ray Rice, and the boys in the Big East used to have that many before halftime.

Other games

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein passes the eye test as the league’s second-best quarterback. The man who set an FBS record with a ridiculous 27 rushing touchdowns a season ago was back at it Saturday against the dreadful Jayhawks in a 56-16 victory.

He accounted for four touchdowns, two rushing and two passing, looking very much like a force that will be tough to stop 12 days from now in Morgantown.

So much for that vaunted Texas Tech defense. Landry Jones and the Sooners destroyed it 41-20, as Jones threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns. No running back on either team even reached 50 yards on the ground, mostly because in this league, they don’t bother.

TCU looks to be in serious trouble without suspended quarterback Casey Pachall. Aside from losing at home to Iowa State, 37-23, there are columnists already suggesting if Coach Gary Patterson brings Pachall back at all this season, he’s selling out. Tough times in Fort Worth for sure, where this team has lost about eight projected starters so far to unnecessary reasons.

This week’s games

Oklahoma vs. Texas

Kansas State at Iowa State

West Virginia at Texas Tech

Oklahoma State at Kansas

TCU at Baylor

Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: elliott@theintelligencer.net