Last week, I said the time had come for West Virginia to show the nation what they're made of.
Well, the Mountaineers certainly did so.
After roaring out to a 5-0 start and enjoying some attention as a potential national title contender, the Mountaineers over the past two weeks have been completely and utterly exposed as frauds. The offense may be great, sure. And Geno Smith may well indeed be a fantastic talent. But there is simply no denying now that West Virginia is an awful defensive football team. I mean, flat-out awful.
One week after being ripped apart by Texas Tech, the Mountaineers laid yet another egg--and even worse, they did so at home. Kansas State came into Morgantown and completely dominated the 'Eers, racking up 479 total yards (and limiting West Virginia to just 243) in a 55-14 rout.
K-State quarterback Collin Klein was again phenomenal, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns, while Smith was almost completely shut down by the Wildcat defense; when all was said and done, he threw for just 143 yards on the day, and also tossed two interceptions.
Now sitting at 5-2 and 2-2 in the Big 12, the Mountaineers find themselves at a real crossroads here. They get a bye week to try and regroup, then will face a tough three-game stretch that will see them take on TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Unless they get this thing fixed, all three could be losses--and this season, once so promising, could completely unravel.
♦ After that horrific 0-2 start--the season-opening loss to Ohio (at home), and the gut-wrenching road loss to Virginia--nobody could have possibly predicted this: Penn State has now won five straight, and according to many, is looking like the most complete team in the Big Ten. The red-hot Nittany Lions kept their unlikely winning streak alive on Saturday night at Iowa, and they did so in impressive fashion, blowing the doors off the Hawkeyes from the opening kick, silencing a sold-out Kinnick Stadium, and putting on the kind of performance that most certainly will make their upcoming opponents just a little bit nervous. The NIttany Lions raced out to a 31-0 lead in this one before Iowa finally got on the board, and in truth, the 38-14 final isn't really indicative of how dominant the Nits were. They outgained Iowa 504-209, had 28 first downs compared to Iowa's 14 and controlled the ball for 38:08, as opposed to Iowa's 21:52. Senior quarterback Matt McGloin was again outstanding, throwing for 289 yards and two touchdowns, and tailback Bill Belton,healthy again after suffering an ankle injury a few weeks back, rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. This is a hot football team right now, and this week, they get a chance to make a real statement, as Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes come rolling into town for what is sure to be one of the best Big Ten games of the season. An amazing story is unfolding in Happy Valley. It will be interesting to see what kind of turn that story takes this week.
♦ LSU doesn't look like a great football team. They aren't going to blow anybody out of the water. They will very likely struggle all year to put points on the board. But I'll say this much: After seeing the Tigers scratch-and-claw their way past South Carolina and Texas A&M over the past two weeks--saving their season in the process--I'm quite certain that this team will put up a fight each and every week, no matter who they're playing (and yeah, I'm looking at you, Alabama). Against A&M, the Tigers faced a daunting task: One week after enjoying that electric night-game atmosphere in Baton Rouge, they took to the road, for an 11 a.m. start, in one of the most hostile environments in the nation. And for a while there, they certainly looked sluggish, falling behind 9-0 in the first quarter. But slowly but surely, LSU ground down the Aggies; they forced five turnovers on the day and, despite managing just 97 yards passing, escaped with a 24-19 win. Again, it wasn't pretty. But a win is a win. And the Tigers remain alive in the race for the SEC West.