The Mountaineers improved to 7-4 on the season with a 30-6 dismantling of lowly Iowa State on Saturday.
The win was West Virginia’s fourth-in-a-row, overcoming an 0 for 4 stretch against Big 12 competition in October.
When the Mountaineers were winless in October, they went up against the Big 12’s best, playing their best. Oklahoma won, 44-24, on Oct. 3; Oklahoma State won, 33-26, in overtime on Oct. 10; Baylor won, 62-38, on Oct. 17 and TCU won, 40-10, on Oct. 29.
WVU just needed to flip the calendar to improve. It topped Texas Tech, 31-26, on on Nov. 7; beat Texas, 38-20, on Nov. 14; dominated Kansas, 49-0, on Nov. 21 and ended November with the win against ISU, Paul Rhoads’ final game as the Cyclones’ head coach.
"We’re a blue-collar program,” Rhoads said after the game. “For seven years I put on my hard hat on and gone to work.”"
The Mountaineers defense went to work early and often against the Cyclones and made sure Rhoads wasn’t a winner. The Mountaineers played for 20 seniors who also had gone to work for their program in recent years.
"It’s hard to characterize the senior class because there are so many personalities,” said WVU safety KJ Dillon. “But we’re all hard-working.So, for the Mountaineers’ seventh win, here’s seven key points from Milan Puskar Stadium."
- SCORING AGAIN: When Dana Holgorsen inherited the reigns to the program five years ago, he was supposed to bring a high-scoring offense. That hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but against the Cyclones, the Mountaineers reached a scoring milestone. It was their 100th victory when scoring 30 or more points since 2000. Under Holgorsen, West Virginia has reach 30 points in 32 wins.
- QB RUSHING: Quarterback Skyler Howard led the team in rushing with 73 yards on 13 carries. He had a long run of 32 yards, which was a touchdown scamper in the third quarter. He now has six rushing touchdowns on the year and had a long run of 50 yards for a score in the loss at Oklahoma. Recruited for his passing ability, Howard has 492 rushing yards in 2015, which is 10th in a single season for a quarterback in program history. In two years, he has 632 career rushing yards, which is sixth in program history for a quarterback.
- NO TOUCHDOWN FOR YOU: In the past nine quarters of football, the Mountaineers have not given up a touchdown. That dates back to the third quarter of the Texas game. The defense recorded a shutout against Kansas and allowed field goals of 33 and 49 yards to ISU kicker Cole Netten.
- EMPTY SEATS: An announced crowd of 42,446 fans braved less-than-ideal conditions on a chilly, rainy day in Morgantown. It was the smallest crowd of the 2015 season. In the seven homes games, the Mountaineers averaged 54,824 fans at 60,000-seat Milan Puskar Stadium. The games against Maryland and Oklahoma State were sellouts. Only Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State averaged more fans per game in the Big 12.
- FIVE INTERCEPTIONS: Dillon filled in as a leader on defense as pre-season All-American Karl Joseph went down with an injury before the Oklahoma State game. He had an interception in the first quarter against Iowa State, his fifth of his four-year career. And, though he played in just four games, Joseph had five picks. WVU ranks No. 2 nationally with 21 team interceptions. That is fifth-most in a single season in program history. Daryl Worley recorded an interception in the second quarter. It was his fifth of the season.
- CAN’T FORGET THE PASS: While the defense and running game has been two standout facets for the Mountaineers this season, uncharacteristic for a Holgorsen-led team, the offense hasn’t forgotten about the deep ball. West Virginia got on the board early in the first quarter on a 60-yard pass from Howard to Shelton Gibson. The Cleveland-native caught six passes for 148 yards. He could’ve added about 40 more to that total, with two more touchdowns. He caught a pass, but was just a step out of bounds in the end zone in the third quarter. Then, in the fourth, he dropped a would-be touchdown after a diving attempt. The 148 yards are still the most from a receiver this season and his eight touchdowns are a team-high, too.
- TAKING ADVANTAGE: The Mountaineers scored 10 points off three Iowa State turnovers. They now have created 75 points off turnovers this season, with 48 points coming in the past three games.
West Virginia will be searching for win No. 8 this weekend at Kansas State. The Mountaineers have not beaten the Wildcats since WVU joined the Big 12 in 2012.