WVU football: No. 5 WVU trampled by Texas Tech, 49-14
LUBBOCK, Texas -- No. 5 West Virginia's nine-game winning streak and audacious dream of an unbeaten season came to an emphatic end Saturday as Texas Tech rolled up 676 yards in a 49-14 victory Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.
A crowd of 57,382 on Homecoming rushed the field after witnessing the Red Raiders take a five-touchdown lead after three quarters and level a blow to WVU quarterback Geno Smith's Heisman Trophy candidacy.
"They played better than we did on all three sides of the ball," Mountaineers Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They played harder than we did. They had better effort. They outcoached us. We let the situation get to us."
Smith was 29-for-55 for 275 yards and a touchdown - and he was 4-for-5 for 60 yards on the team's final drive against a passive defense of mostly reserves. He'd thrown just 38 incomplete passes and was averaging 399 yards passing this season.
"No explanation for it," he said. "Just the way the game goes. Everyone has a bad game. That's really all there is to it. I don't think I played terribly bad. I just don't think I did enough to win the game.
"That's really the way I measure myself, with wins and losses rather than completions and all the other stuff people like to build up in the media."
Smith was off on a number of his throws throughout the game and combatted a stiff wind with mixed results. The wind was 18 mph at kickoff and gusted above 30 mph during the game.
"Geno let the wind affect him," said Holgorsen, a Texas Tech assistant from 2000-07. "I've played around here for eight years and it wasn't any windier (Saturday). It's a nuisance, but if you let that be an excuse, it's going to mess with you and I think it did."
Smith, who is now 24-8 as WVU's starter, dismissed the wind as a factor.
"The wind didn't bother me," Smith said. "Anyone who says that obviously doesn't know football."
One of the few good things to come out of the game for the Mountaineers was Smith extending his streak of passes without an interception to 313. He's now 66 shy of breaking the NCAA record.
There was one close call, though, when a fourth-down pass early in the fourth quarter went toward receiver J.D. Woods as Smith was forced to the right. It hit Tech's Bruce Jones in the hands, but fell to the ground as WVU came away empty after a first-and-goal at the Tech 9-yard line.
The Mountaineers were 1-for-6 on fourth down after going 5-for-5 against Texas last week.
"It got to the point where they had to go for the fourth downs," Tech Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Little surprised on a couple of them, but that's the way Dana is."
The Red Raiders answered with a 15-play, 98-yard drive that took 8 minutes, 28 seconds off the clock. WVU followed with a touchdown run by Dustin Garrison, but ended up with its worst loss since a 45-3 loss to Miami in 2001. The last time WVU lost by more to an unranked team was a 50-14 loss to Colorado State in 1978.
"Who would have thought that game would have been over after three quarters?" Tuberville said.
The Red Raiders had lost five straight Big 12 home games, hadn't beaten a current conference team at home since 2009 and hadn't topped a ranked Big 12 team at home since 2008. They'd also never beaten a top-five team by a larger margin.
"It was huge," said linebacker Cody Davis, who had 13 solo tackles. "They come in really cocky, just kind of on the high road, so to get up on them fast is big in games like this. You kind of show them we're serious and get a jump on them and get the momentum on our side of the stadium."
Tech quarterback Seth Doege was 32-for-42 for 499 yards, six touchdowns and one interception on a pass his receiver bobbled. Ten receivers caught a pass for the sixth time in as many games this season.
Darrin Moore caught nine passes for 92 yards and three touchdowns and Jace Amaro had five receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown. The Red Raiders also had 173 yard rushing on 29 attempts and averaged 9.5 yards per snap.
Ten Tech plays covered 20 yards or more. WVU's defense has now surrendered 39 of the 20-yard plays this season. The WVU offense, which was ranked No. 3 in total yards, had just two against the Red Raiders and has 36 this season.
No opponent had ever managed 600 yards of offense against WVU before this season. It's now happened twice in three games.
"I don't know what else to say other than we've got to go back to the drawing board," defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said. "We're not going to give up on what we've been building on. We've got to continue to build on some positive things."
WVU (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) played again without running back Shawne Alston, but was also without defensive end Will Clarke. Within the game, the Mountaineers also lost right guard Jeff Braun, receiver Stedman Bailey, cornerback Brodrick Jenkins and linebacker Isaiah Bruce. All six are starters.
The Mountaineers were looking to start 6-0 for the first time since 2006 and 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2008, but will instead tumble when the polls and the first BCS rankings when they're released Sunday. The Mountaineers play host to Kansas State (6-0, 3-0) at 7 p.m. next Saturday.
They had trailed only 25:02 all season, but never led against Tech and were never really in the game. They won the toss and deferred to the second half before spending the entire first half deferring to the Red Raiders.
"It seemed like a giant snowball that kept piling up and piling up and piling up until it got to be pretty deflating and we pretty much called it quits," quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said.
Tech (5-1, 2-1) scored touchdowns on the first two drives and was at the WVU 27 leading 14-7 when a bobbled pass was intercepted by safety Karl Joseph.
The Mountaineers punted and Tech did the same, but the Red Raiders would score touchdowns on their next three possessions.
By halftime, the Red Raiders had 438 yards of offense and 18 first downs. Doege was 21-for-30 for 336 yards and four touchdowns, each to a different receiver. Amaro scored on a 39-yard play 1:56 into the game. Eric Ward followed with a 14-yard score to take a 14-0 lead after nine minutes, WVU's largest deficit of the season, though that would be just a temporary condition.
Marcus Kennard scored on a 16-yard pass into the corner and against a stumbling Jenkins. Darrin Moore then got inside freshman cornerback Ricky Rumph for a 2-yard touchdown after Rumph came in to replace Pat Miller.
That made it 28-7 with 2:04 left in the half and WVU ended up punting it back with 1:04 to go. The punt by kicker Tyler Bitancurt, the third punter this season, went 27 yards. Tech scored three plays later on a 53-yard run by SaDale Foster when Foster ran up the field, bounced outside, made it to the sideline and then beat six defenders to the end zone.
"That should have never happened," DeForest said. "That hurt."