September 29, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers offensive linesman Jeff Braun (57) celebrates a touchdown pass with teammate Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith (12) in the second half at Milan Puskar Stadium. West Virginia defeated Baylor 70-63. Mandatory Credit: Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE
Now that we have officially reached the midway point in the 2012 season, let’s take a look at what the Mountaineers have done to this point. It certainly has been a grab bag of highs and lows. The offense has put up tremendous yards, point totals, and big plays. Geno, Tavon, and Stedman have been rewriting the West Virginia record books week after week. On the other side of the coin, the defense has been pummeled and outclassed as of late. Now that the Mountaineers have apparently lost their National Championship shot, it will be interesting to see how WVU responds in the second half of the season.
Without further adieu, let’s stroll down memory lane.
September 1: Marshall at WVU
Sep 1, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith (12) throws for a touchdown as Marshall Thundering Herd linebacker Cortez Carter (49) defends in the first quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-US PRESSWIRE
With the Mountaineers riding high from their blowout victory of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, the team was anxious to show the national pundits that they were more than capable of putting up huge number on a weekly basis. The Herd wandered into a buzz saw in Morgantown. Geno Smith flexed his cannon, showing Marshall how to properly execute the air raid offense. WVU dismantled little brother Marshall by the tune of 69-34, a near Clemsoning.
For video highlights of this game, use this Youtube link.
September 15: James Madison vs WVU (at FedEx Field)
The Mountaineers had two weeks to prepare for FCS juggernaut James Madison. West Virginia staged the game in Landover, MD in an effort to improve their recruiting profile and give the D.C. area alumni a home game. WVU did not disappoint their alumni, putting on a show in the nation’s capitol. The offense did not put up as big of numbers as was to be expected. The Mountaineers defense looks to be strong in this game, keeping the Dukes offense pinned up for only 12 points. WVU easily handled their rent-a-victim game against the Dukes, winning easily.
Highlights of WVU’s 44-12 victory are here.
September 22: Maryland vs WVU
September 22, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers safety Karl Joseph (8) breaks up a pass intended for Maryland Terrapins wide receiver Kevin Dorsey (in white) during the second quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The Maryland Terrapins trekked up to Morgantown in uniforms that look fit for a galaxy far, far away. West Virginia donned their own new threads for the game to make this arguably the ugliest match-up of the college football season. The play of the game would not be much better. The WVU offense struggled to find their rhythm early in the game against one of the nation’s top defenses (at the time at least). Geno and company settled in and started putting up points in the second quarter. The Terps would prove to be a nuisance, especially freshman star Stefon Diggs. Maryland kept pace with West Virginia, making the game far more interesting than the experts would have predicted.
The Mountaineers would put together a solid defensive effort in the second half, to preserve a 31-21 victory for WVU.
September 29: Baylor vs WVU
September 29, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Stedman Bailey (3) catches a touchdown pass thrown by Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith (not shown) in the second quarter against the Baylor Bears at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE
This was the day that Mountaineers fans were waiting all summer for. After a lengthy legal drama that played out between WVU and the Big East, the Mountaineers were finally granted the ability to play in the Big XII for the 2012 season. Their first Big XII football game would feature a match-up of two of the country’s most explosive offenses. Geno Smith and Nick Florence went score for score on the afternoon. Both defenses looked to be completely lost in pass coverage, leaving the star receivers of both teams wide open.
WVU set 10 school records in a wild 70-63 shoot-out victory against the Baylor Bears.
October 5: WVU vs Texas
Oct 6, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Andrew Buie (13) is chased by Texas Longhorns defensive end Malcom Brown (90) during the game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. West Virginia beat Texas 48-45. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
West Virginia finally hit the road earlier this month with a major road test against the Longhorns. The game was a match-up of two top 10 teams. The fans in Austin were hyped up by Texas’ strong showing to that point in the season and wanted to prove that they were title contenders. The Mountaineers offense effectively mixed the run and the pass, keeping Texas on their heels defensively.
The Longhorns kept pace with the Mountaineers all day, and had the onside kick worked, they could have easily won the game. WVU pulled out a squeaker in front of a record crowd at DKR, 48-45.
October 12: WVU vs Texas Tech
Oct 13, 2012; Lubbock, TX, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers inside receiver Jordan Thompson (10) makes a reception against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the second half at Jones AT
The Mountaineers were warned all week about the Texas Tech game being a major trap game situation. The West Virginia coaching staff impressed upon their squad that the Red Raiders were an underrated opponent. It looked as though the Mountaineers were just not mentally in this game from the start. After falling behind early 14-0, Geno and the offense started to try to make big plays to get back into the game and forced some bad passes. The Texas Tech defense kept the WVU offense in check all afternoon. The defense looked worse than ever before. The combination of poor play on both sides of the ball led to one tremendously humbling loss.
Texas Tech took WVU out of the National Championship race with a 49-14 upset victory. (I would recommend not watching the highlights, it is depressing).
With a rough 6 game slate left in the 2012 season, featuring 4 teams ranked in the initial BCS rankings, the Mountaineers will have plenty of opportunities to prove what kind of squad they are. Will the Mountaineers overcome their deficiencies and claim a Big XII title or will WVU look like the Mountaineers of old and drop multiple games to lesser opponents?
The answer to that question will start to be answered this Saturday against Kansas State.