Again followers, Al could not post as he is out of town, so I have passed his weekly column along to you:
Saturday marked the beginning of a new era and the closing of another chapter. At the conclusion of last year’s USF game, we bid adieu to our old Big East foes, giving up guaranteed yearly wins against teams like Rutgers (17 straight wins).
Saturday concluded another un-storied chapter as it appears that we are headed into another lull in the 12 game, 101 year “rivalry” with Marshall. Despite Marshall AD, Mike Hamrick’s desires
, unless WVU receives another juicy deal that results in the previous 7 game slate, where WVU enjoyed a 5-2 home and away series, it seems this series will be in the closet for some time.
The scoring margin in WVU’s 12-0 streak is quite impressive at 520-163, and the ante was upped once again in this weekend’s 69-34 romp. There were a couple first halves that were dicey and we all remember the near disaster at The Joan a few years ago, but this series will be remembered for the desperate desire of MU to beat big brother with no avail, and the desperate desire of WVU to justify why the game shouldn’t be played. As a non-native, I must say that it has been an interesting ride, but in the end, the flagship prevails, and we all move on. Hopefully WVU can continue the offensive trend of the last two games and Marshall can pull out a solid season in CUSA. Looks like their match up versus the Bobcats will be a marquee game this year.
Is it possible to get complacent in 70 point outbursts? Can you pick on anything from the offense this weekend? Outside of the potential trap game that every team faces each year, it is hard to fathom that this offensive squad will struggle on any given Saturday, key injuries withstanding. The stars all did their thing and the o-line lived up to the praise The Email bestowed on them last week. The truly exciting part was that Buie and Alston blew up, rumbling downfield all day. On top of that, JD Woods added 7 catches for 75 yards, offering another target demanding attention from opposing defenses. Even running at 80% efficiency, this should remain one of the top 5 offenses in the country week in and week out, and much more complete than the best Slaton/White teams. Can you imagine saying that, straight faced to yourself five years ago?
The defense on the other hand proposed issues and many unanswered questions. Contrary to my negative remarks last week, the defensive line looked better than I expected and the secondary looked down right bad. While I will give Rakeem Cato, Dobson, and MU’s offense some credit, there is no way we should have given up 500 plus yards. If we do not improve, we will definitely be looking at shootouts
all year long. It is still early and we have two more warm ups in an FCS foe and a team that only scored 7 points against Bill and Mary this weekend which will hopefully give us time to grow, so it may be a bit premature to jump of the deep end, but how much more glaring would the 34 points be if we only scored a pedestrian 50 on offense? The one point that is tough to gauge, is what effect will the increased amount of plays that the Def. will face due to our offensive nature have on our D? We did face over 100 plays Saturday, which must be factored into an analysis, but it still causes pause for concern.
A short bit from Bruce Feldman on the Eers:
Some teams put up staggering numbers early because they’re whipping up FCS programs. Marshall has some legit athletes and talent, as did Clemson. Early Sunday morning, I asked Thundering Herd DC Chris Rippon how much better he thought WVU is from last year now that Smith and Co. have had a year to better hone their timing and understanding of Dana Holgorsen’s system?
“Their O-line is very good,” he said. Keep in mind WVU got back standout OG Josh Jenkins, who had been the team’s top linemen but missed 2011 because of a knee injury. “They were excellent in the bowl game and played the same way [Saturday]. Geno is Geno: Confident. Knows defenses and gets them into the right play.”
If Smith stays healthy, I’ll be stunned if he’s not a Heisman finalist. WVU and Oregon have become must-see TV for any football fan, college or pro.
The not-so-good news for Holgorsen: his D allowed 545 yards, 413 yards through the air. But there is also time for the young WVU secondary to jell. Most of the better passers on their schedule play the Mountaineers in the second half of the season.
Bear in mind, that while Marshall may not equate to what we will see in the Big XII, they should be a contender in Conference USA and are a far better squad than the cream puffs that a lot of the big programs hosted this weekend posted similar or worse results. Of the seven teams to score 60 or more this weekend, we were the only to do so against a Division 1-A squad.
Around the Country
Watching games around the country and reviewing the recaps, I would say the weekend primarily consisted of games where we found out that they are what we thought they were
. From my perspective, there were not many teams that you look at and think wow, they are a lot better/worse than I thought they were. The most collective or revealing conference was the Big 10, which had a full lineup of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. As much as it pains me to say, our fears that ole Urban would roll out of the gates firing in Columbus have come to live. Braxton Miller looked solid as did rest of the Nuts. We knew the Def would be stout
, but I was curious as to how long it would take for the spread to settle in; well it settled. Now, leave it to Lou Holtz to wayyyyy over blow one game against and average CUSA team and state that no one will contend with the Buckeyes. Beating Miami of Ohio by 46 doesn’t anoint you the undisputed Big 10 champs. My favorite to win the league is Michigan State, which looked great on defense and Le’Veon Bell looked like a beast
, but their qb play looked awful. Tough to tell how much credit to give them in beating a ranked Boise St team that lost much of last year’s starters, but I’m a Chris Peterson believer. Nebraska also rolled. The league went down hill fast from there with PSU confirming they will be bad losing to Ohio (yes I know they are decent, but still), Wisconsin struggling with Northern Iowa, Iowa beating NIU by one, and Michigan getting steamrolled. Note, that is 10 straight Big 10 non-conference losses against top 5 teams.
Anyone else had the pleasure yet to watch ESPNU’s “The Experts”, featuring Mike Bellotti, Jay Walker, David Pollack, Joe Schad, Tom Luginbill and Danny Kannell? If you are a fan of Wheres Waldo, turn into this show and try playing Wheres the Expert. I think I could create a better panel of experts with Bobby Bonilla, Karen Stewart, Jay Jacobs, a cardboard cutout of Gary Coleman, Air Bud’s agent, and Howard Schnellenberger. At least it would be more entertaining.
Probably the most overrated or frivolous thing in sports is watching the college football polls prior to November. A handful of teams go out and play marquee teams while the majority play powder puffs. Over the next two months various unforeseen upsets will occur, injuries, overrated teams will be exposed, underrated gems will shine, and inevitable losses will shift the landscape of the polls. With all that said, we are only human
, which means for some reason will gaze at these rankings created by unqualified/biased “experts” with undying excitement about where we may fall. We might as well admit that we all watch the polls and screw it, we know its fun. Therefore I will update us each week until we lose and I get frustrated with poll watching! This week we are up to 8 and 9 in the polls. There is not a lot of opportunity to move up with only Georgia playing a significant foe in Mizzou. Brace yourself as well that teams on bye weeks often drop while out of sight and out of mind.
Links and other things
Sitting on the couch Sunday night, I decided to take in a Big XII game in SMU v Baylor. Admittedly in the mass amounts of football I watch each week, I am not sure I have sat down and really paid attention to a third tier Big XII game, so this telecast on Fox Sports Central was a bit eye opening for me. What I found out is, we may really struggle handling commercial breaks. One would have figured that we would see stories of western tales
, cowboys out on the trail
, or great political homages
. Instead I found videos of The Nipper Alert
, The American Indian College Fund
, UFC fighters for Shriners hospital, MLB Team Action, Boys and Girls Club, Autism Speaks featuring Toni Braxton, one about prostrate cancer, one about not choking out your wife, a melanoma commercial, and the stereotypical commercial commemorating
veterans staring members of the Film Actors Guild
that honors a good cause, but leaves you feeling sick to your stomach. Folks, none of the last sentence was an exaggeration, and I failed to mention this gem
. By the fourth quarter I was wishfully dreaming of going back to the good ole days of the WV Lottery commercials featuring the old man with dementia rambling in the stands. Perhaps I could bring that commercial back, I’ve been practicing
Brett McMurhpy (espn) tweets, “Vegas already sets over/under for Nov. 10 West Virginia at Oklahoma State game at “infinity”" . I chuckled.