WVU prepares to host No. 2 LSU, ESPN
MORGANTOWN - ESPN will hold College GameDay on West Virginia's campus Saturday as the 16th-ranked Mountaineers play host to No. 2 LSU. ABC will televise the 8 p.m. game.
GameDay has never in its 25-year history been to Morgantown. The last time GameDay visited a Big East campus was in 2005 when Notre Dame played at Pitt. Charlie Weiss was in his first game with the Fighting Irish and Dave Wannstedt debuted with the Panthers. Notre Dame won, 42-21.
WVU has never beaten a team ranked Nos. 1 or 2 in the Associated Press bowl. The Mountaineers have beaten No. 3 a few times, most recently against Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.
The Tigers will be the highest-ranked team at Mountaineer Field since top-ranked Miami won 40-23 in 2002.
WVU will announce later this week the location of the GameDay set, which is where the network conducts its live pregame show before noon kickoffs. That is open to the public. The show starts at 9 a.m. on ESPNU and then switches to ESPN at 10 a.m.
* * *
OUTSCORED 10-3 and outgained 229-109 in the first two first quarters this season, WVU (3-0) led Maryland (1-1) 14-3 and had a 134-63 edge in yards after Saturday's first quarter.
The Mountaineers took that momentum to build a 27-10 halftime lead.
"The biggest single thing we tried to get across this week was to hit the field with some excitement and start the game fast," said Coach Dana Holgorsen, the first coach to win his first three games at WVU since Bobby Bowden in 1970. "I felt like we had a really good week of practice and we started the first half well. I felt like we won all three sides of the ball."
* * *
THE MOUNTAINEERS might have led by more, but their first drive ended when freshman running back Andrew Buie lost a fumble after an eight-yard run to the Maryland 25-yard line.
That was the team's first turnover of the season, but two more would follow. Quarterback Geno Smith was sacked and lost a fumble in the second quarter and later threw an interception in the third quarter when receiver Ivan McCartney couldn't hold onto a pass on the sideline.
"Terrible," Holgorsen said. "All three could have been prevented very easily. A dropped ball tipped up and led to a touchdown.
"The first one, Geno got sacked and fumbled, but if he went to the left instead of the right like he was told, he could have gotten it out of his hand. Buie just needs to have two hands on the ball when he's getting closed in on."
WVU's two turnovers led to 10 points for Maryland.
The Mountaineers were the only team in the country that had not forced or committed a turnover, but they took three from Maryland, all interceptions by WVU safeties. Terence Garvin returned his first career interception 37 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. Darwin Cook had his first career interception and Eain Smith ended the game with his second career interception.
* * *
WVU'S RUNNING game averaged just 3.0 yards per carry and totaled 92 yards, but Holgorsen was happy with the effectiveness of the blocking and the backs.
"We did better," he said. "We were able to hand it off and get some yards, which helps. It's all about making them defend both the pass and the run. We can't be one-dimensional."
Buie started and gained 51 yards on seven carries and didn't have a negative run. He scored his first career touchdown on a 10-yard run in the second quarter, but also took a hit that slowed him later in the game.
"The kid takes some shots," Holgorsen said of Buie, who was knocked out of the season-opener.
Vernard Roberts had 12 carries for 36 yards and Shawne Alston played in his first game and carried six times for 20 yards and two first downs on third-down plays.
* * *
GARVIN AND linebacker Najee Goode were penalized for unnecessary roughness for what they believed were hard, though legal hits.
"I wasn't happy with (the penalties), obviously," Holgorsen said. "It's a fine line. We obviously have to protect guys, but you don't want to curb the aggression of the defense. It's always a judgment calls, but there are a lot of judgment calls out there. You've just got to move on."
* * *
WVU FULLBACK Matt Lindamood and receiver Brad Starks did not play. ... The teams combined for 957 yards of offense, 101 passes and 167 snaps. ... WVU has eight scoring drives of 10 or more plays this season. ... The three 100-yards receivers Saturday - Tavon Austin (122), Stedman Bailey (113) and Ivan McCartney (101) - matched the total for the entire 2010 season. ... Roberts has scored a rushing touchdown in all three games in his career.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.