The biggest revelation from making the trip to Austin, is that regardless of the pain of crisscrossing the east coast to get there, was that road trip was a hell of a lot more fun than a Big East trip. Sixth street easily trumps Louisville’s 4th street (Id compare to a mix of 4th street and Bourbon). Scouring the city for its finest brisket ended with a more savory satisfaction than stopping in for Skyline Chili (my bowels reaction was about the same). The atmosphere of the record setting 101,851 Memorial Stadium crowd was far more electric than being in Piscataway (didn’t see anyone chopping wood). The tailgating scene was more luxurious than parking at the Skytop in Syracuse and while the travel sucked, it was a lot easier than heading to Storrs (did not see Paul Pasqualoni, that part sucked). We all have enjoyed the extra media attention of late, but the real treasure is that we finally have exciting games to watch again and while we travel, we are headed to venues and college towns that in their own way rank in the same echelon as what we fondly view Morgantown. The mountaineer faithful stormed Austin to the point that about every hour of the weekend, some Texan remarked, “you West Virginians are every where”.
I have already published a full recap of the tailgating and bar scene, through the eyes of your faithful leader (that’s me!), over at HailWV.com, so follow this link if you want to read more, but I will give you quick excerpt: ”In the “dirty Sixth” area as the locals call it, there are about 5 blocks of door to door bars. I quickly knew that I was in for a good time while I was gathering bar suggestions from a local at our first bar, The Library. During our conversation, a mute lady in a motorized chair pulled up and began pointing at the liquor shelf. Unable to pinpoint her vice of choice, the bartender offered a pad of paper, but this mute would have none of that. Frustrated, she kept pointing, and out of intrigue, I assisted in identifying her bourbon . . . I don’t have to tell you she wanted it straight, not tarnished with some mixer dag gummit (she didn’t say that ‘cause she’s mute, but was thinking it)! I knew then we were in for a treat. Sports bars, dive bars, arcade bars, billiards (I watched the World Series of Fooseball at one), piano bars, music halls . . .”
As for the actual game, are y’all having to take heart medicine watching these Big XII games? I felt like my hair was going to resemble Ern Mcracken’safter the Reno final, during the fourth quarter. If someone told you that Geno would fumble the ball inside our own 20 twice, we would have a field goal blocked, have two sure touchdown misses (Jd Woods dropped TD and when the turf monster got Buie), and Geno was held to 268 yards, how many of you would think that we would’ve won? How about getting crushed? There are various conclusions you can draw from that, but I prefer to focus on the fact that we played far from our best game, in a major road environment, where the other team forced us into running the ball and we still came out victorious. That is what I was talking about last week when I listed off the big games that Geno n crew have pulled us through. Sometimes you just have to have a group of leaders that just find a way to win games like this.
I am not surprised that Texas was able to get to Geno a few times. It’s not an indictment on the line, it’s just a matter that Texas has a couple guys that will likely be playing on Sunday’s on their defensive line. It was a bit surprising not to see Geno maneuver the pocket more gingerly than he did though as it is usually a strength of his. Buie has gotten plenty of deserved press for his breakout day, but how about some love for Tavon as well. That 4th down touchdown in the first quarter and his kick returns were major contributions. While the defense surely has a long ways to go, it was exciting to see that they kept a power rushing team to 168 yards and came up with a handful of stops when we needed them to. David ash helped with not catching the one snap, but you could see from the time he broke the huddle that he was rattled. The biggest remorse I have is that we couldn’t execute when we were up 21-7, after the Goodwin fumble. We started the drive with the mixed up handoff then the failed flea flicker. A touchdown could have put a nail in it early.
Looking forward to Texas Tech, we stare directly at the quintessential trap game, even if Holgo doesn’t know what that means. Well Holgs, Definition: Coming off a major road win, that was pulled off in emotional fashion, we are put up against an inferior but dangerous team that requires a return trip to Texas, with a top five showdown looming the week after. When the schedule came out, this was hardly a marquee matchup that people were drawn to and lacks the story lines of other games, but to me it instantly popped up as a watch out game. Vegas is thinking the same thing placing us as merely a 4.5 point favorite. The Red Raiders, who have bounced around the others receiving votes section of the polls all year, feature a decent defense, and one the top passers in the country in Seth Doege. While chatting it up with a few Texas folks watching the Tech game this weekend (desperately hoping to see a Sooner loss), they passed along the advice that you need want to play in Lubbock at night; “strange things happen out there at night. It’s a weird place.”. Kind of sounds like Morgantown, no? Thankfully the television gods decided we should play at 3:30.
Clearly this is a game we should win, but Mountaineer fans need no reminder of our annual slip ups against lessor foes (ahem, Syracuse). Games against Texas Tech, Iowa State, TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma State will ultimately decide who wins this conference. It is clear at this point that the WVU, Texas, OU, and K State foursome are the main contenders, but any of us can loose to any of those aforementioned squads. As of now, the contenders are 3-0 versus the middle pack. Keep an eye on these match ups as we progress through the year. Texas and Oklahoma line up at the Red River Shootout this weekend, which could serve as a de facto knockout punch for the loser. WVU and the Wildcats each look to survive upset bids prior to facing each other in a potential top 5 showdown in Motown next weekend (cats have Iowa State).
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My weekly vitriol towards the Big 10 received another boost this weekend. With Ohio State banned from the Coaches poll (who crushed previously ranked Nebraska), there are no ranked teams from this pitiful alliance of fooseball teams. Jim Delaney’s power conference joins the ACC this year in their annual October realization, that they should just give in and look forward to basketball season. It is pretty humorous that the one year OSU cannot claim anything, they appear to be the far and away favorites. I would think Nebraska would’ve at least made it competitive . . . . I am hoping for an Indiana vs Minnesota championship game. I would attend and be That Guy with the huge spinning head of Jim Delaney. Can y’all tell I enjoy this?
Speaking of the ACC, did Jimbo spend too much time at hometown Little Vegas this week instead of prepping for the Fighting Tom O’briens?? Once again, for the 80th year in a row, we are revoking the FSU IS BACK campaigns. Honestly though, they haven’t been to a national championship in 12 years or a BCS in 7. I was sophomore in High School when they were last in the big one, therefore to me, when they lose the perennial Virginia Tech type choke job, that is when I feel like the FSU I know and love is truly back.
The huge Armageddon games east of Texas this week happened over in the SEC with the Spurrier Sqaud pummeling Georiga, placing Mark Richt back on the hot seat for the 31st time, and Florida pushed around LSU. Now, due to being at the real matchup in Austin, I didn’t get to see these games, so from what I hear, Florida looks like the real deal. I didn’t give them an ounce of credit at the beginning of the year, but I guess now I do as they are undefeated and beat LSU, but looking at that score, I cannot help but think of putrid offenses. There is a damn good chance that the Gamecocks good lose in Death Valley this weekend and then turn around and beat up on Florida, or better yet, Florida could go ahead and lose to Vandy, a statement unimaginable a few years back, but surely possible. Then, with a one point victory over TT, we are number 3 in the country!
I think I am going to hold off on listing the top games remaining on the schedule that could shape the national title race for another week or two, as we should see the tide shift a bit over the next couple games. I plan to do the same for the Big XII.
I know people will ask how we were received as opponents, so I’ll go ahead and address. I didn’t run into a single person that wasn’t polite or congratulatory in defeat while down there. They were almost too polite. They are different though from the Southern hospitality that we received in places like Auburn, where they would offer you food and beer though. These fans wouldn’t go that far, but there was good football conversations to be had with any UT fan you ran into. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any idiots from our fan base either …. Although I couldn’t resist throwing the upside down hookem horns occasionally. After all Where would college football be without a bit I good natured smack talk?
Heard a lot of Texas fans anxious to come to Morgantown next year. I think they will be surprised at the stark differences in tailgating. True to their wine and chess mantra, many of the tailgates exhibited an elegance that you don’t see at home. We saw some areas with massive tents and impressive entertainment systems, others with a spread that looked catered, but then you saw their trailer that ha a 12 foot range and dual 5 foot high smokers. Gotta say that was all pretty impressive, but not sure whee you would fit all of that in the blue lot. Finally, to be completely honest with you, it wasn’t in the slightest bit what I would call rowdy. Not once did I walk by a tailgate and think, how these guys are pounding some beers. Even on our best behavior I am sure we will send some Texan men home with complaints to their wives about they need to ditch the pasta salad in exchange for a beer bong.
How about Charlie Weis not practicing his seniors? I don’t care how bad they are, that is a dick move. This further entrenches him as one of the worst coaches in America in my book. After the Mangino incident and failed Turner Gil experience, Kansas should just stick to basketball.
In re-watching the Texas game on Tivo, I would like to remind everyone that Erin Andrews is still hot.
Since 2003, the Mountaineers are 80-3 when scoring 30+ points . . . I tend to find these type of statistics a bit overstated, but considering we likely won’t score less than thirty this year, I hope it stays strong. Speaking of stats, a couple updates for you: WVU is 21st in Tackles for loss, 22nd in turnover margin, 113 in opponents third downs, Stedman and Tavon are #2 and #3 in national receiving yards per game (behind Terrance Williams of Baylor), and Geno is #1 in passer rating. The Big XII has six of the top seven rated passers in the country (AJ McCarron is the other), but lost Casey Pachall due to a DWI. Of the remaining four, after you remove Casey and Geno, we have already faced David Ash and Nick Florence and have JW Walsh and Collen Klein to go. Others of note are Landry Jones at 55 and Seth Doege at 25.
Can we get a shout out for Pat Miller and Josh Francis this week? Say what you want, but Pat had a couple huge plays end the end of last week’s game. Josh has been having a solid season so far and is currently tied for 15th in the country in Tackles for Loss. He seemed to be all over the field Saturday night.
Have to be somewhat concerned about this prediction. The NCAA video game simulations have been 17-3 over the past month and almost perfectly predicted the Georgia dismantling at the hands of Spurrier. Better start praying folks.
Don’t forget, just because the Eers are on the road, doesn’t mean you can’t tailgate. Enjoy the good weather this weekend.