www.charlestondailymail.com Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers WVU FOOTBALL: Roles reversed as Mountaineer defense, TCU offense take turn in spotlight http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029212 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029212 Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:01:43 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Perhaps it's happened sooner than expected, especially considering how they fared last season, but West Virginia and TCU were brought to the Big 12 three seasons ago for occasions like this Saturday.

The 20th-ranked Mountaineers play host to the 10th-ranked Horned Frogs and the winner gives itself a considerable chance to win the conference. Both were 4-8 overall last season and 2-7 in the conference, that following the debut season when both were 7-6 overall and 4-5 in the conference.

With reputations to consider, they rebuilt themselves to fit a profile. One is doing it with breathtaking offensive exploits. The other is putting unshakable trust in a dominant defense.

One is WVU and the other one is scoring all the points.

"I think we're to the point in this program where the coaches have the defensive guys playing so well that if we do have an off day as an offense, we can still win the game," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said, "which is awesome."

It's also extraordinarily difficult to believe. The Mountaineers (6-2, 4-1 Big 12), quite simply, produced some of the very worst defensive rankings, statistics and performances in the nation the past two years. Yet that side of the ball, now under the control of first-year, first-time defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, has highlighted each game in a four-game winning streak.

The Mountaineers held Kansas to 176 yards of offense and one offensive touchdown set up by a special teams turnover in a 33-14 win. Then they blitzed Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb repeatedly throughout the second half and held the Red Raiders to no points, one first down and 29 yards as the offense scored 17 points in the final 7:32 to escape 37-34.

Gibson's masterpiece was against Baylor, and it came when he lost his starting cornerbacks early but refused to abandon his plan of pressuring quarterback Bryce Petty and asking defensive backs to thrive in one-on-one coverage. Baylor scored one touchdown after halftime in a 41-27 loss. Oklahoma State was 2-for-15 on third down and didn't score after halftime Saturday and the Mountaineers actually produced two turnovers and scored on one after getting just four turnovers in the first six games.

That triumph was more about a statement than statistics, though. WVU played conservatively on offense and asked the defense to win the game on the road.

"If your defense is playing at a high level, it allows you to get yourself in position to be able to win football games," said coach Dana Holgorsen, who this season has said that his is a "run first" offense.

WVU's offense is far from broken and ranks No. 9 in passing yards and No. 10 in total yards per game. The success of the running game to keep the ball away from Oklahoma State after halftime impacted the outcome like a touchdown pass to Kevin White would have, too.

Those throws to White weren't available and WVU's pass protection wasn't reliable, so the Mountaineers felt better about handoffs on offense and stops on defense. Afterward, in a true sign that things are indeed different, Dawson wondered if he and Holgorsen were too patient with the passing game.

"We've got to learn to live with the fact that winning 34-10 is not that bad," Dawson said.

WVU passed and succeeded early and led 14-0 after eight plays with familiar touchdown passes to White and Mario Alford. Five straight punts followed and WVU changed its mind.

"There were a couple drives I would put directly on us as coaches thinking too much and getting a little bit over-infatuated with going down the field," Dawson said. "And it's hard not to when you've got guys like Mario and Kevin. The last thing you want to do is watch the film Sunday and say, 'We didn't give those guys enough opportunities.' "

Dawson and Holgorsen may have had mixed feelings about changing course, but no one was happier than the defense, which not only shows no signs of tattered confidence that was characteristic in the past, but is now emboldened by the constant challenges thrown its way.

"I think we're confident right now and we're playing extremely hard, and I don't want to tell the kids anything different because they think they can go out and play with anybody," Gibson said.

That'll help Saturday because Patterson, whose teams led the nation in total defense in 2000, 2002 and 2008-10, has rebranded his program as an offensive force.

"I like Gatorade," he said. "When you have to beat people 17‑13 just drinking water, you'd like to be able to go back and find out what the different Gatorades are and do everything."

The Horned Frogs (6-1, 3-1) use the latest flavor of the Air Raid the Mountaineers and other Big 12 teams run. Patterson considered moving this way before he brought his team into the conference and believed even last season he had the roster to do it. He only acquired the ammunition this past offseason when he hired Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham as co-offensive coordinators.

Change was Patterson's response missing a bowl for the first time since taking over in 2000 and losing four games by a touchdown or less.

"It's about scoring points," he said.

Cumbie was pried from the Red Raiders staff and played quarterback at Texas Tech when Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator. Meacham was hired away from the University of Houston. He was an offensive assistant at Oklahoma State when Holgorsen was the Oklahoma State offensive coordinator in 2010.

Cumbie has reinvented quarterback Trevone Boykin, who caught 11 passes against WVU last year and is a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate, while Meachem has turned veteran receivers into big-play threats. TCU leads the nation in total and scoring offense.

Patterson said he's "been surprised all the way through." Preseason practices were so disappointing that he never imagined this level of immediate success.

"It was bad," he said. "There was no in between. There's so much learning that goes on with this offense, and you have to believe in it. Every wide receiver in America wants to play in it, but they haven't learned how to practice in it. There's a lot of running to it. It's a mentality and a way of life.

"It's like how we play defense. From the time you step out there, you're moving and catching passes or sprinting and catching passes. Not all offensive schemes are like that."

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Balanced attitude leads to balanced output for Herd (video, gallery) http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029215 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029215 Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:58:20 -0400 By Derek Redd

(Reading on our app? See video here)

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's football team is in a club of one this week, the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision to sit in the top 10 in scoring offense and scoring defense. The 23rd-ranked Thundering Herd is third in the FBS scoring 45.9 points per game and eighth in allowing just 16.5 points per game.

As much as any scheme or strategy, Marshall football players point to the team's demeanor - its even-keeled approach to the season so far - as a major reason in the efficiency of both the Herd's offense and defense.

"I think it's a huge impact," sixth-year defensive lineman James Rouse said. "Being down at halftime this past game, a couple of years ago, we might not have been able to come out in the second half like we did this time.

"There was nobody on each other, nobody pointing fingers," he added. "We knew what we needed to do and just went out and executed."

In its 35-16 win over Florida Atlantic this past Saturday, the Herd (8-0, 4-0 Conference USA) trailed at halftime 16-14, the first time Marshall had been down at the half all season. What reception would the players get from the coaches in the locker room? Fire and brimstone? Cool and calm?

"I thought he was going to come in and tell us what we were doing wrong," linebacker Neville Hewitt said.

Marshall coach Doc Holliday said after the game that the halftime message was quite simple.

"The only thing that was said was, 'Hey guys, let's go do what we do,'" he said. "'Let's go play and let's go play the way we're capable of playing.'"

What followed was Marshall outscoring FAU 21-0 in the second half, including two more touchdown runs from junior running back Devon Johnson and the Herd defense holding the Owls to 166 yards of total offense and allowing them to convert just two of eight third downs.

The players said they see no need to work themselves into a frenzy before games in order to rise to that level of play. They'd rather stay steady and matter-of-fact. And they're able to remain calm, redshirt junior offensive tackle Clint Van Horn said, because of the work they've done during the week.

"All the rah-rah before the game, we don't really need to do that," Van Horn said. "All that's really going to do is wear you out. Preparation is what wins ball games. Emotions are over after that first snap."

There's another reason the Herd's offense and defense are both top 10 in their respective scoring categories, said sophomore guard Michael Selby. It's because that offense that averages more than six touchdowns a game lines up every practice against the defense allowing just over two touchdowns a game.

"We know every day that, when we go out to practice, we're going up against the best competition we go against," Selby said. "That's the main thing. We know we see the best looks every day. On the weekend, we know we can handle it."

*

LIKE EVERY OTHER college football fan, the Herd players will be very interested at the look of the first College Football Playoff Rankings, to be released at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. At the end of the season, those rankings not only will decide the four teams in the national championship semifinals, but also the selection from the FBS' smaller conferences that will make a marquee bowl.

Van Horn said that announcement will add a little spice to Marshall's bye week, but it will be of little more than entertainment value.

"I'll watch it, but I won't read too much into it, because we've still got four more games to play and a conference championship to worry about," Van Horn said. "Without winning these four, we can't get to the conference championship anyways. So we have to worry about all that stuff before we think about the rankings.

"But I will be watching," Van Horn added with a smile. "Trust me."

*

JOHNSON AND linebacker Jermaine Holmes each earned C-USA player of the week honors Monday, with Johnson earning a national honor as well. Johnson was named conference offensive player of the week after breaking the school record with 272 rushing yards and four touchdowns against FAU. The College Football Performance Awards also named him its national running back of the week.

Holmes was C-USA defensive player of the week after an 18-tackle day against the Owls that included 2.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Johnson and Holmes joined University of Alabama at Birmingham kick returner J.J. Nelson, who was named conference special teams player of the week.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Texas game to be on Fox Sports 1 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029218 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029218 Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:44:28 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The Big 12 Conference has announced that WVU's Saturday, Nov. 8, Big 12 Conference football game versus Texas at 3:30 p.m. at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

West Virginia's game on Saturday against TCU, presented by Change the Future WV, is being designated as WVU's first-ever "True Blue" Game. Mountaineer fans are encouraged to wear Blue to the 3:30 p.m. game at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Only single-seat tickets remain - no two seats together - for Saturday's TCU contest.

Tickets are also available for West Virginia's remaining home game against No. 11 Kansas State on Thursday, Nov. 20.

Tickets can be purchased online at WVUgame.com or by calling the Mountaineer Ticket Office at 1-800-WVUGAME.

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WVU BASKETBALL: Tickets for WVU-VMI game go on sale http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029219 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029219 Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:44:14 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Tickets will go on sale for the WVU-VMI men's basketball game at the Charleston Civic Center Box Office on Tuesday. The game will be played in Charleston at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Tickets are $27 for lower level, $15 for upper level sideline and $10 for upper level baseline.

Fans in the Charleston area can call 304-345-SHOW or purchase at the Charleston Civic Center Box Office.

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MARSHALL BASKETBALL: Herd schedule, times announced for 2014-15 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029220 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM03/141029220 Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:43:46 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MU men's basketball schedule has times set

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The remainder of the tipoff times for the 2014-15 Marshall men's basketball season - the debut season for coach Dan D'Antoni - were announced Monday. The six Cam Henderson Center home dates that hadn't been previously announced are set for 7 p.m.

Marshall will play a home exhibition game at 4 p.m. on Nov. 8 against Concord.

The season opener is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14, against Jacksonville State at the Henderson Center. Two days later, Savannah State visits the Henderson Center for a 4 p.m. tip.

Marshall plays seven of its first eight regular-season games at the Henderson Center, including visits by power conference members South Carolina (Dec. 1) and Penn State (Dec. 6). It is the first time the Herd has had two visits by power conference foes in the same season.

In addition to the Savannah State game, Marshall has two afternoon dates at home - Jan. 24 against UTEP (3 p.m.) and Feb. 14 versus Western Kentucky (5:30 p.m.).

The C-USA opener for Marshall is at 3 p.m. on Jan. 4 against WKU.

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WVU students camp out for ESPN College GameDay (gallery) http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM01/141029231 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141027/DM01/141029231 Mon, 27 Oct 2014 20:30:34 -0400 By Andrea Lannom West Virginia University students are already setting up tents in anticipation of Saturday's ESPN College GameDay, which will broadcast from Morgantown as the Mountaineers take on Texas Christian University.

Four people got a jump start on the action Sunday evening, just hours after ESPN announced the popular Saturday morning college preview show was making a return visit to "Touchdown City."

Tommy Skinner, 21, of Westboro, Pa.; Brittany Brown, 21, of West Liberty; Andy Thomas, 21, of Huntington; and Andrew Osborne, 21, of Cicero, N.Y. were the first ones to get in line.

"It actually was really random," Brown, a junior at WVU, said. "We didn't actually plan it ... We were all at Wal-Mart and said, 'let's get a tent.' Then, we set up a tent and said we were not leaving. There wasn't much planning in the process."

The show airs 9 a.m. to noon on ESPN. The 20th-ranked Mountaineers will face off against the 10th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.

"There's no question we're going to win this weekend," Skinner said. "Our boys are looking good and I don't think that's going to change."

Students are lining up to be among the first 500 or so people let in to be closest to the anchors and reporters - including Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack and Samantha Ponder. Fowler and Herbstreit, along with sideline reporter Heather Cox, will also be on the broadcast team for the game.

Thomas says he and his friends are beginning the process of narrowing down ideas for signs - one of the traditional aspects of the GameDay program - to hold up during the broadcast.

"I love the atmosphere so just being with all the students, it's like a controlled chaos," Thomas, a junior, said. "Everyone wants to show that we're the most dedicated fans. Just having all these die hard fans in one area - it's the closest we can get to being on the sidelines without it being Saturday yet."

This is the second time College GameDay has broadcast from WVU's campus. The last time was Sept. 24, 2011 when WVU played LSU.

"I was the only one there (among the group) who was there three years ago at LSU and I saw how crazy that got," Skinner, a senior, said. "I figured we could put up a tent. We wanted to get the tent up as early as possible before everybody else got into it."

And the idea caught on quickly. Monday evening, Thomas counted 20 tents lined up on the Mountainlair green, where the program will be broadcast. Brown explained she was passing out lanyards giving people numbers as they set up their tents.

"We've grown exponentially," Thomas said. "We're just under 24 hours in and we have 20 tents. That's a lot better than we anticipated. The atmosphere is contagious."

Skinner said he's liked the atmosphere in line, saying many students were throwing footballs around and the school's mascot had been around on and off. Earlier, he said some of the football players stopped by and took pictures with them.

"Our team busts their butts every weekend and we want to show them we support them," he said.

Skinner explained someone is in the tent 24-7 and his tent mates will take shifts in case someone needs to go to class, go out to eat or go to the restroom.

"It's pretty tight already. Some people in the other tents will look out for us too if we have to run to class or the bathroom," Skinner said.

Skinner, Thomas and Brown said they also wanted to get past the negative image they said was created by people who rioted following the Mountaineers' 41-27 win over the Baylor Bears.

Three WVU students were expelled for "various acts of misconduct." The three were among nine arrested and dozens cited earlier last week by law enforcement.

Morgantown police said people pushed over light posts on High Street; bottles, rocks and other blunt objects were thrown at police and firefighters and fencing around construction sites were destroyed. Morgantown firefighters responded to 32 street fires and seven dumpster fires that weekend.

"I'm from West Virginia and I would like to represent West Virginia in a positive light," Brown said. "I hate the reputation that students have. I hope everyone can have fun and maintain that positive atmosphere that's going on right now."

Skinner agreed, saying he wanted to prove all WVU students aren't like that.

"We want to showcase all the positive traits about the university and show we are not anything like the students a couple of weeks ago ... It's not about rioting and mob mentality. It's just a community," he said.

Contact writer Andrea Lannom at Andrea.Lannom@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/AndreaLannom.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Johnson's record-setting effort unexpected by all (video, gallery) http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029292 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029292 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 21:56:02 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON - Marshall football coach Doc Holliday would have loved the ability to sit before reporters Saturday night and say he knew all along that running back Devon Johnson was capable of such record-setting performances.

He would have loved to say that, in moving Johnson from tight end to tailback on the eve of preseason camp, he predicted the junior would be one of the nation's most prolific ballcarriers.

"For me to say I was going to move him to tailback and get the production we've gotten out of him, I didn't think that," Holliday admitted.

Here's what Holliday can say: The player he trusted to be the Thundering Herd's featured back is now the owner of Marshall's single-game rushing record and the catalyst for the team's 35-16 win over Florida Atlantic.

Johnson scored four of Marshall's five touchdowns on runs of 58, 62, 66 and 7 yards and in the process ran for 272 yards on just 24 carries. The previous record-holder, Ron Darby, rushed for 262 yards against Western Carolina on Nov. 12, 1988, and needed 47 carries to do it.

As he has with every accolade he's earned this season, Johnson immediately credited Marshall's offensive line.

"It's their record," Johnson said. "I couldn't have done it without them. It starts up front. They hold that record, not me."

Johnson had huge holes through which to run against the Owls and barely was touched, if at all, on any of his scoring plays. He averaged 11.3 yards per carry versus FAU (3-5, 2-2 C-USA), second this season only to his 13 yards per carry against Florida International. He reached that mark despite spending several minutes in the second quarter on the sideline with trainers working on his knees. They fitted sleeves on both his knees and he went to the locker room early for halftime.

He shrugged off those issues, returned to the game in the second half and more than doubled his workload, carrying 17 times after just seven in the first half. He gained 123 yards in the final two quarters and scored a pair of touchdowns that put the game away.

"I think it's just a tribute to his focus," Herd running backs coach Chris Barclay said. "He started fast, then we had a little lull and had some issues moving the football. I told him, 'Kiddo, hey, it's a long game. It's not about one play or two plays. It's a series of plays. Just stay patient and stay with your coaching. Have good eye discipline.' And it was just a tribute to his hard work and focus."

Johnson now is second in the Football Bowl Subdivision behind Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah in total rushing yards with 1,203. Marshall (8-0, 4-0 Conference USA) believes Johnson is the fastest Herd player to 1,000 yards in a season in just eight games. He's fourth in the FBS in rushing yards per game (150.4), yards per carry (8.78) and rushing touchdowns (15), despite not playing tailback since his senior year at Richlands High School in Virginia.

The 6-foot-1, 243-pounder has floated from fullback to linebacker to tight end in his Herd career and the breakneck pace of his ascension has surprised everyone. Johnson didn't expect it. He figured he'd serve as quarterback Rakeem Cato's backfield bodyguard during Cato's assault on the Marshall record books.

"I just got back there and I was going to protect Cato," Johnson said. "That's the main goal, to just do what I have to do to make sure the team gets the win."

Barclay didn't expect it, either, but he's having a blast watching it.

"It's awesome," Barclay said. "We're just watching him grow every game. He's becoming a better player every game. The more snaps he gets, the more carries he gets, he's getting a better understanding of the position and just how everything works together."

*

THE HERD found itself Sunday at No. 23 in both the Associated Press sportswriters poll and Amway coaches poll. Marshall stayed put in the AP poll, but fell a spot in the coaches poll. The most important rankings, however, will be revealed Tuesday.

The College Football Playoff committee will release its inaugural rankings at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. That is the list that not only decides the national championship semifinals, but also which team among the "Group of Five" conferences will earn a spot in the Cotton, Peach or Fiesta Bowl. East Carolina of the American Athletic Conference, ranked 19th by the coaches and 21st by the sportswriters, are the only other ranked "Group of Five" team.

"We'll see," Holliday said. "I'm kind of anxious to see how it turns out. It's new, and we'll see how it goes. At this point, you need to worry about where you are five weeks down the road. That's when it counts."

*

HOLLIDAY SAID the Herd will spend some of its bye week reestablishing itself on special teams. Marshall stopped only one kickoff return behind the FAU 30, and the Owls began drives twice at its 34 and once each at its 39 and 46. Kickoff specialist Kaare Vedvik did not record a touchback, the first game this season he didn't record at least two.

Also, kicker Justin Haig - whose 41-yard field goal with time running out beat FAU in Boca Raton in 2013 - missed his only attempt Saturday, a 33-yarder. He is now 8 of 11 on field goals this season with a long of 37 yards.

"We missed that daggone short field goal, and it wasn't a very good snap and it wasn't a very good hold," Holliday said. "And we've got to correct that kickoff thing. Special teams changes field position all the time and you can't have that in kickoff return and put your defense in that position, because it's going to hurt you and it sure did today."

Tyler Williams did punt well, averaging 51.4 yards on five punts with a long of 64. If he had enough punts to qualify (he has only 24 this year), he'd be second in the FBS at 47.6 yards per punt.

*

MARSHALL'S 16-14 HALFTIME deficit was the Herd's first all season, and FAU was the only team this year to lead Marshall twice in a game. Florida International led 7-0 the game before, then Marshall scored 45 straight points. The Owls led 3-0 and 16-14, until Cato's lone touchdown pass, a 21-yarder to Tommy Shuler, put Marshall ahead to stay.

The players, though, said it didn't hurt that the Owls made it tough.

"We knew we were going to come by a game where we were going to be down," Shuler said. "We just had to overcome it and win the game.

"I love games like this," he added. "The crowd is on the edge and everybody's up and everybody's on their feet. I know I have trust in my teammates that we'd come out and get the 'W.'"

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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Chuck McGill: Holliday "anxious" to see Herd's placement in CFP poll http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029293 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029293 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 21:53:40 -0400 By Chuck McGill HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall University football team has charged through the 2014 season much like the team's running back, Devon Johnson, rumbled through the defense Saturday on three of his long scoring runs: Untouched.

The No. 23 Thundering Herd struggled, relatively speaking, in its 35-16 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday, and consequently slipped one spot in the Coaches' top 25 poll and held steady in the Associated Press rankings. It was Marshall's ninth consecutive win since the Conference USA championship game last December, all victories by double figures. The Herd has won 14 of 15 games overall, is one of only three unbeatens left in major college football and the program is the only 8-0 team in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

What will all of that mean Tuesday when the first set of College Football Playoff rankings are unveiled at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN?

"Can I let you know after they vote?" fifth-year Marshall coach Doc Holliday said with a laugh.

It is unclear how the 12-person committee, comprised of five athletic directors and people formerly in prominent roles (former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, for example), will weigh head-to-head results, strength of schedule and other metrics to determine the rankings. There will be six top 25 polls released by the CFP committee before the Dec. 7 finale that will determine the four-team playoff and access bowl assignments.

Marshall is vying for the guaranteed access bowl spot given to the highest-ranked team from the non-power five conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West and Sun Belt). Using this week's media poll, for example, Marshall would be ranked behind AAC-member East Carolina and just ahead of Mountain West-member Colorado State. ECU is ranked is No. 21, Marshall is No. 23 and Colorado State is the first team lurking outside the top 25 in the "others receiving votes" category.

If the Herd survives November games against Southern Mississippi, Rice, UAB and Western Kentucky - teams that are a combined 14-16 - and then the C-USA title game, the program could be the sixth team to ever enter bowl season at 13-0.

Will that be enough?

"I'm kind of anxious to see how it turns out," Holliday said. "It's new and we'll see how it goes. At this point, you need to worry about where you are five weeks down the road."

But, Holliday reiterated, he supports the new era of college football and the new system of determining a national champion.

"I think I am," he said. "I'm not a fan of what's happened with the power five conferences and the separation. I do think the best four teams in America should go play for the national championship; I don't care if it's four teams from the SEC.

"If they can get that right, I'm all for it."

The CFP will ultimately determine if Marshall's dominance supersedes the hindrance that is the team's 2014 schedule.

"I think we're in the best position we've ever been in because there's a seat at the table for us and for something special to happen," Holliday said. "In 1999, Marshall was ranked 10th in the nation and ended up in the Motor City Bowl. That's not going to happen again."

Marshall also hopes to receive a boost from the public relations firm Brener Zwikel & Associates, a group hired by Conference USA to plead for the program's inclusion in the CFP.

"I think it's a great gesture on their part," Holliday said. "I think it tells all of us that Conference USA is going to do every possible thing they can do to make sure Marshall gets everything it deserves."

Holliday will be the first to remind anyone that the Herd has "got a long ways to go," but despite sputtering Saturday against FAU, it was another feather in the cap for Marshall. It was the program's first win at home as a top 25 team since beating Appalachian State, 50-17, early in the 2002 season. Marshall is 11-0 all-time at home when it sits in the top 25 poll.

The Herd is off this Saturday and then plays four games in 21 days to conclude the regular season. Maybe, by the end of that stretch, enough of the other major programs will have fallen out of the way to push Marshall up the national rankings. Maybe teams like East Carolina, Boise State, Colorado State and UCF will no longer loom as threats to the Herd's spot in a major bowl against a major opponent.

This upcoming stretch is where Marshall has to turn heads, to convince the doubters that the program deserves at least one shot to prove itself against the top competition.

"Remember what you do in November," Holliday said, "that's where it counts."

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WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers handle Oklahoma heat http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029294 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029294 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 21:51:54 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The win against Baylor was barely out of Dana Holgorsen's system, and he'd just started to prepare for Saturday's game against Oklahoma State when he took a look at the weekend weather.

Sunny. Hot. Temperatures in the 90s.

"I don't know how you simulate that," Holgorsen said after Saturday's 34-10 win against Oklahoma State.

He tried. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Mountaineers were invited out of the cool, overcast and sometimes rainy weather and inside the indoor practice facility. The heat was turned up, all the doors were closed and WVU was on its way to practicing for both the Cowboys and the conditions.

"It's the first time I've ever done it," said Holgorsen, who followed a hunch after coaching the 2010 season as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator. "We cranked the heat up and went at it. Did it help? I don't know."

His players, who have won back-to-back road games for the first time since joining the Big 12, are certain it mattered. At first, though, they were suspicious.

"It was huge," said quarterback Clint Trickett, who hadn't played at Boone Pickens Stadium. "I thought they were joking about a lot of things, like how tight the sidelines are and how hot it was."

Trickett was at Florida State for three seasons. He'd been with his father, Rick, when he was the offensive line coach at LSU and Auburn in the south. He had his doubts about Holgorsen's ploy and was cool enough to laugh about it with receivers Mario Alford and Kevin White.

"It's not going to be that hot out there," he assured them.

He was wrong. "It was 15 degrees hotter out there," he said. "It was one of the tougher games I've been a part of."

Trickett said he was happier with the latest win than he was with the last-second wins against Texas Tech and Maryland or last week's win against Baylor. The Mountaineers were again tested, though in a different manner, but still passed and outscored the Cowboys 20-0 in the second half.

"We've had some come-from-behind wins and some big-name wins, but this is one of the games I'm more proud of and appreciate more because of how tough it was," Trickett said. "Last week, I had the flu and played through that, and this was darn near as tough as that for me. I can't even imagine what it was like for the linemen or the running backs."

The 20th-ranked Mountaineers (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) believe they persevered because they were prepared. They started fast with 14 points in eight plays, but followed with punts on five straight possessions.

"The first two drives of the game were great runs, but then we went out and sputtered and I saw some hot, tired bodies," Holgorsen said. "When you're in that situation, if you can grind the clock and run the ball effectively, it gives you a chance to win."

The Mountaineers stepped out of character. Holgorsen was upset with pass protection early and receiver Kevin White was double-teamed often. The run started to seem like a smart idea, which meant they'd need to pace themselves to make it work. The offense took its time between snaps. There were huddles and repeated occasions with single digits on the play clock.

WVU passed the ball 15 times in the first half and 15 times in the second half, but ran the ball 25 times after halftime after 19 carries in the first two quarters. The offense averaged 4.5 yards and netted 85 rushing in the first half and then averaged 5 yards and totaled 115 after halftime.

Trickett was 3-for-3 for 112 yards and two scores on the first two drives and then 18-for-27 for 126 yards the rest of the way.

It wasn't explosive, but it was effective and helped the defense settle in during the third quarter, when it played just seven snaps because the offense held onto the ball for 26 plays and 11:09.

The Mountaineers only scored three points and actually punted on one of their two drives, but that was, nevertheless, meaningful. The drive started at their 1-yard line, but Wendell Smallwood ran for 9 yards on third-and-6 and Dreamius Smith gained 20 on third-and-19.

WVU punted from the Oklahoma State 46, but not before snapping it 14 times, taking 7:08 off the clock and letting the defense recharge at what the players said was the hottest part of the game.

"I would say it was not a whole lot different out there than it was in practice," cornerback Daryl Worley said. "It was a great idea for preparation because it's exactly what we went through in the game."

The defense grew more aggressive throughout the fourth quarter and safety Dravon Henry returned his second interception of the game 52 yards for a touchdown. Oklahoma State (5-3, 3-2) followed with a turnover on downs and trailed 27-10 with 3:21 to go. Smith scored on a 40-yard run on the next play.

That ended the game and the trying week for the Mountaineers.

"The whole thing was challenging," Holgorsen said. "Coming off a big win last week, we kind of went through the motions for a majority of the week practicing inside. There was no way we could practice for the heat. It was hot and it took a toll on us. We tried to run the ball and huddle up some more to take pressure off the defense, which I think we did pretty well."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU FOOTBALL: White held down, but happy with win http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029295 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029295 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 21:50:52 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - In the best possible way, West Virginia receiver Kevin White was disappointed with the way Saturday's game went for him. For the first time this season, White, who entered the game as the nation's only 1,000-yard receiver, was held under 100 yards.

"It's frustrating, but only because it wasn't the same as it has been," said White, who has immensely enjoyed his touchdowns, highlight catches and duals with cornerbacks this season. "But it's not a big deal. I'm glad we got the win, but it was just a little different."

White caught three passes for 27 yards in the 34-10 win, but managed to fit in a 19-yard touchdown on WVU's opening drive. Oklahoma State played much of the game with two deep safeties to guard White and receiver Mario Alford. When the Cowboys didn't, they used a safety to help the cornerback covering White.

His quiet day contributed to quarterback Clint Trickett finishing below 300 yards passing for the first time since he was knocked out of the Texas game last season. He'd topped 300 in a school-record eight straight games.

"I know people are going to ask me, 'Oh, man, what about 300 yards?'" Trickett said. "Dude, I could care less. I'm actually happier about this game because of what we were able to do."

*

Oklahoma State finished with 436 yards of offense and 275 came on first-down plays. Twelve of the 23 first downs came on first-down plays. Through three quarters, the Cowboys were averaging 9.69 yards on first down and had a 51-yard run, a 38-yard pass and an 8-yard touchdown pass.

"They hit us with some (one running back, two tight end) personnel, which they hadn't showed on film, and they hit us with some unbalanced (two tight ends on one side), which they hadn't shown on film," defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said.

The Mountaineers didn't handle either tactic well early, but they expected it. Oklahoma State's head coach is Mike Gundy. His brother is Oklahoma running backs coach Cale Gundy, and the Sooners had success running and passing that way against WVU last month.

"We worked it and we had two different plans for it, but we didn't execute either of them very well early on and we got hit with a big run and a big pass," Gibson said. "Every week now we're going to have to take a package into the game to handle the unbalanced. With the pressure we bring, people want to get us out of our base defense."

*

Gibson's defense continued its mastery of third downs. Entering the game, opponents needed 7 or more yards on 62 of 113 third downs. The Cowboys needed 7 or more yards on 11 of 15 Saturday, including their first five. OSU started 0-for-8 on third down and finished 2-for-15 and needed an average of 8.3 yards.

*

The Mountaineers played without starting cornerback Terrell Chestnut, but allowed one pass play of more than 17 yards to quarterback Daxx Garman, who entered the game ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 in yards per completion and No. 3 in 25-yard pass plays.

WVU's success in the run game came without starting running back Rushel Shell, who traveled with the team but didn't trust his right ankle after warm-ups, and fullback Elijah Wellman, who didn't travel with the team after he was cited for disorderly conduct in last week's post-game rioting.

*

WVU used three punt returners. Cornerback Jaylon Myers was up first and replaced cornerback Daryl Worley, who injured a rib fumbling away a punt against Baylor. Worley had replaced receiver Jordan Thompson, who has interchangeably struggled with catching, judging and returning punts.

Myers had two quiet returns for minus-1 yards in the first half and then let a low line drive bounce at the end of the first half and roll for a 71-yard kick. WVU then used Thompson up 17-10 early in the fourth quarter, but Thompson ran deep to field the 56-yard punt and then fumbled it before scrambling to recover.

There were offsetting penalties on the play and Oklahoma State kicked again, but this time to receiver Vernon Davis, who let a shorter kick roll until it was downed.

WVU was otherwise exceptional on special teams. Josh Lambert made two field goals. Kicker Michael Molinari had five touchbacks on seven kickoffs and only let dangerous Tyreek Hill return one for 14 yards. Punter Nick O'Toole averaged 41.1 yards on seven punts with five downed inside the 20-yard line and only let Hill return three for five yards.

Oklahoma State even missed a field goal after making one earlier in the game, the first miss in 14 attempts by a WVU opponent this season.

*

WVU won the turnover battle 2-0 with two Dravon Henry interceptions. It's the first multiple-turnover game of the season and the second time the Mountaineers have won the turnover battle. The defense, which forced four turnovers the first seven games, still doesn't have a fumble recovery.

"To get two turnovers in a game, and on one of them to actually score on, I was like, 'Wow,'" Holgorsen said. "I didn't think I was ever going to see that again."

WVU, which entered the game ranked No. 123 in turnover margin, left Oklahoma State as the only team in the country without a fumble recovery.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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MARSHALL SOCCER: Herd men add final home game http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029333 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029333 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 18:36:02 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's men's soccer team has added a final home game to its regular season, head coach Bob Gray announced on Sunday. The Herd will face Concord University at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 at Hoops Family Field at Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex.

The match will be Marshall's final home game of the 2014 season. The team will also play Asbury at home on Wednesday Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.

The Concord match will serve as senior day to honor Marshall's lone senior, F/GK Danny Sellitti.

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WVU SOCCER: Mountaineer women seal Big 12 title http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029336 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029336 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 18:32:04 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - In front of a pink-clad crowd of 1,257 on Sunday at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, the No. 8-ranked West Virginia University women's soccer team clinched its third consecutive Big 12 Conference regular-season championship with a 3-1 win over Oklahoma.

The victory pushes the Mountaineers' (13-2-2, 6-0-1 Big 12) unbeaten streak to 14 matches. WVU's unbeaten streak in home conference matches stands at 25.

Sunday's title gives WVU at least one Big 12 championship in each season since joining the league in 2012. The Mountaineers have won four straight conference regular-season crowns, dating to the 2011 Big East American Division title. WVU's all-time record in Big 12 regular-season play stands at 20-1-2

The preseason favorite, WVU is the second team in Big 12 history to win three straight regular-season titles; Texas A&M won four consecutive crowns from 2004-07. This is the eighth time in conference history the preseason favorite in the coaches' poll won the title.

WVU closes out its regular-season schedule at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Baylor. It is Senior Night and fans will be admitted for free, courtesy of United Bank. Youth fans are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and attend Trunk or Treat in the Coliseum band parking lot starting at 5:30 p.m.

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WVU FOOTBALL: ESPN College GameDay set for Morgantown return http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029357 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029357 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 11:09:56 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN - West Virginia's four-game winning streak and TCU's record-breaking offense have pulled ESPN's popular Saturday morning college football preview show back to Morgantown.

For the second time ever, College GameDay will broadcast live from WVU's campus, the network announced Sunday. The 20th-ranked Mountaineers will then will then play No. 10 TCU at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.

On Sept. 24, 2011, the university played host to the event on the plaza at the Mountainlair, and the commentators raved about the atmosphere and the on-site views with the houses and the foliage on frat row serving as a backdrop.

The Mountaineers (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) lost that primetime game to LSU, 47-21, in the throes of conference realignment. Pitt and Syracuse had just declared their intent to leave the Big East for the ACC and WVU was actively investigating all of its options.

One popular and ultimately faulty thought was that a win, or at least a strong showing, against the Tigers and for ESPN's three-hour pregame program would benefit the Mountaineers as conferences looked to expand and attract marketable and profitable fan bases.

The Mountaineers, then ranked No. 16, fell behind early, but scored the first two touchdowns of the second half to make the score 27-21. LSU's Morris Claiborne then returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and the Tigers were on their way to another No. 1 ranking a day later.

There's some chaos in the background this time, too. Fans and students rioted after the home win against then-No. 4 Baylor nine days ago, and law enforcement responded to fires, downed light posts and unruly crowds with pepper spray and "chemical munitions." Police arrested eight people and issued citations to 24 others. WVU said 14 of the 32 were students, including redshirt freshman fullback Elijah Wellman, who was cited for disorderly conduct and did not travel with the team for Saturday's win at Oklahoma State.

WVU is also looking to prove itself again, this time to the conference that eventually opened its doors to its most distant member. The Mountaineers were 2-2 after top-five losses to Alabaman and Oklahoma, but haven't lost since. The four straight wins match last season's win total. Each is in Big 12 play, giving them as many conference wins as they had in each of the first two seasons.

TCU scored a school-record 82 points at home Saturday to beat Texas Tech by 55 points. Long known for defense and their 5-2 alignment, the Horned Frogs (5-1, 3-1) lead the nation in scoring offense (50.4 points per game) and rank second nationally in total offense (573.0 yards per game).

The winner Saturday gives itself a chance to win the Big 12 and perhaps represent the league in the first College Football Playoff. That team will have already played Oklahoma and Baylor, the preseason favorites in the league, as well as the opponent Saturday that had emerged as a contender. The winner also has a home game coming up against the Big 12's first-place team, No. XX Kansas State (5-1, 3-0).

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers extend streak, beat Oklahoma State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029358 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141026/DM03/141029358 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:33:46 -0400 By Mike Casazza STILLWATER, Okla. - Those individual streaks that have come to define West Virginia and its offensive exploits this season came to an end Saturday, but the team's winning streak continued.

Clint Trickett failed to pass for 300 yards for the first time since late last season. Kevin White finished below 100 yards receiving for the first time in a season that had seen him enter Heisman Trophy conversations.

But the team that won four games all last season won for the fourth time in a row Saturday as the 22nd-ranked Mountaineers beat Oklahoma State, 34-10, before 59,124 at Boone Pickens Stadium.

"It wasn't easy and it was a lot more challenging than the final score indicated," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Safety Dravon Henry returned his second interception of the game for a 52-yard touchdown with 4:44 left to play and running back Dreamius Smith followed an OSU turnover on downs with a 40-yard touchdown run with 3:12 remaining to put away the Cowboys.

For much of the way, though, the Mountaineers had a hard time on a hot day that saw them lead 14-0 after eight snaps, but just 14-10 at halftime. They played without starting running back Rushel Shell and cornerback Terrell Chestnut, but managed 245 yards rushing on offense and Henry's two interceptions and only one OSU pass play longer than 17 yards on defense.

"We've had some come-from-behind wins and some big-name wins, but this is one of the games I'm more proud of and appreciate more because of how tough it was," Trickett said. "Last week, I had the flu and played through that, and this was darn near as tough as that for me."

The temperature was 89 degrees at kickoff and went up a little as the afternoon progressed, and Trickett still completed 21 of 30 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. The last time he didn't have 300 yards passing was when he was knocked out of last season's loss to Texas.

White caught just three passes for 27 yards, but one was a touchdown on the team's opening drive. He'd had at least 100 yards in the first seven games, but that success encouraged OSU to engineer its defense to stop White.

That gave receiver Mario Alford room to catch seven passes for 136 yards and a 79-yard touchdown, but it also made things easier for the running game on a day WVU decided to trust ball control and defense to win on the road. Wendell Smallwood had a career-high 132 yards on 23 carries and Smith had 72 on five carries.

Included was a gain of 20 yards on third-and-19 from his 5-yard line in the third quarter. WVU ended up punting on that drive, but not before moving from its 1 to the OSU 46 in 14 plays and punting it away after taking 7:08 off the clock.

The Cowboys followed with a three-and-out and then one of four turnovers on downs before Henry's decisive interception return.

"That's the way that game was going," WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. "Dana and the offense in the third quarter were unbelievable. We had the ball almost 12 minutes and we got a three-and-out and then a four-and-out and we got rested and then the offense got us a 10-point cushion.

"When you get a 10-point cushion, it allows me to be aggressive with my calls and I started to heat them up a little bit at the beginning of the fourth quarter to get some stops, and finally we got the big turnover."

WVU is now 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12. It's bowl eligible after missing out last season and has already matched its conference win total from each of its first two years in the conference. The Mountaineers play host to No. 10 TCU (6-1, 3-1) on Saturday.

"It's good. We're 6-2. We're going to celebrate this one, but we're not satisfied with the fact we've won six," Holgorsen said. "I told them I don't want to hear anything about that because we've got another top-10 team at home next week."

OSU (5-3, 3-2) was 2-for-15 on third down and 1-for-5 on fourth down. Quarterback Daxx Garman completed 21 of 42 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown. Tyreek Hill had 78 yards on 15 carries and James Washington caught five passes for 87 yards. Hill had just four yards on punt returns and 14 yards on kickoff returns.

The Mountaineers looked fit for a parade at the start as the visitor on Homecoming raced to a 14-0 lead after two drives.

The Cowboys opened the game by turning the ball over on downs and WVU scored five plays later when Trickett had his choice of receivers and picked White in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown. The Cowboys punted and pinned WVU back to its 10, but an offsides penalty gave the Mountaineers a first down on third-and-4 before Trickett threw to Alford in the open middle of the defense for a 79-yard touchdown.

With 7:49 to go in the first quarter, WVU had 152 yards of offense on eight plays and led 14-0. At halftime, WVU had 250 yards of offense and 14 points.

The Cowboys rallied behind their defense. Garman threw an interception, but OSU forced the Mountaineers to punt on five straight possessions before Trickett took a knee to end the half. WVU had three first downs and three three-and-outs.

OSU found the scoreboard on a 40-yard field goal and followed that with a touchdown set up by a 51-yard run by receiver Brandon Sheperd. On the next play, Garman found his fullback Teddy Johnson alone on the right side for an 8-yard touchdown.

The Cowboys had a look a points on the next possession with first-and-10 at WVU's 11, but Garman was sacked on third down. Ben Grogan then missed a 36-yard field goal to the right, the first time a WVU opponent had missed in 14 attempts this season.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Johnson sets rushing record as No. 23 Herd rallies to beat FAU http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141025/DM03/141029376 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141025/DM03/141029376 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 21:08:15 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall running back Devon Johnson wasn't even alive when the record he erased Saturday evening first was set. The Thundering Herd football team needed every yard the junior running back churned out in its rally to remain undefeated.

Johnson smacked Florida Atlantic University's defense for a school-record 272 yards and four touchdowns as the No. 23 Herd bounced back from its first halftime deficit of the season and beat the Owls 35-16 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The previous record, 262 yards, was held by running back Ronald Darby, who set that mark on Nov. 12, 1988. Johnson wasn't born until July 28, 1993. He said he didn't even know the record was his until he heard it broadcast over the stadium loudspeakers, and while he's happy to break the mark, the win was even sweeter.

"I'm just here to help my team get the win," Johnson said. "Anything that comes along that we achieve, that I achieve, we achieve it as a team."

Johnson's touchdowns came on runs of 58, 62, 66 and 7 yards. In the process, he tied Ahmad Bradshaw for the Marshall FBS record for 100-yards games in a season with his seventh. He also reached 1,000 yards for the season in eight games, which Marshall believes is the fastest any back has reached that milestone.

Yet it was quarterback Rakeem Cato's lone touchdown pass of the game that gave the Herd (8-0, 4-0 Conference USA) the lead for good. Down 16-14 at halftime, Marshall finally broke through with 3:09 left in the third quarter, as Cato hit Tommy Shuler for a 21-yard touchdown. Johnson extended that lead with his third and fourth touchdowns of the game.

"I told the kids that any great football team, at some point during the year, is going to have some adversity and have to find a way to go win a football game," Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. "That's what happened today and I thought we responded extremely well in the second half."

The first half wasn't among Marshall's best this season. The Herd fell behind for just the second time this year when FAU kicker Greg Joseph booted a 30-yard field goal to give the Owls (3-5, 2-2 C-USA) a 3-0 lead. Marshall responded 18 seconds later on a one-play drive, Johnson's 58-yard score.

The Owls then scored 10 straight points on a 16-yard touchdown from quarterback Jaquez Johnson to tight end Alex Deleon and a 40-yard Joseph field goal to go ahead 13-7, only to see Devon Johnson strike back with a 62-yard touchdown.

Joseph's 24-yard field goal with 2:06 left in the first half gave FAU a 16-14 lead it took into halftime.

"I think they struggled with tempo, and that's something that we saw on film," FAU coach Charlie Partridge said of the Owls' first half. "That's part of our wheelhouse. It's something that we do and something we're going to create, more pressure on defenses, and we really keep getting a little bit better each week."

FAU wouldn't score again, though. The Owls drove inside Marshall's 35-yard line twice in the second half and twice came out with nothing. FAU got to Marshall's 6 on the first drive, only to see Herd corner Darryl Roberts bat down a Jaquez Johnson throw to Nate Terry on fourth down. The Owls then went for it on fourth and 8 on Marshall's 32, but Herd defensive end Arnold Blackmon sacked Jaquez Johnson for a six-yard loss.

"We just had to get back to playing Herd defense like we knew we could," Roberts said. "They're athletic like Coach Holliday told us they would be, so we weren't nervous. We just had to get out there and get back to our game."

Jaquez Johnson finished with 179 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-37 passing, with FAU receiver Lucky Whitehead leading the Owls with 102 yards on 11 catches. Cato threw for 218 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-24 passing. That touchdown pass allowed him to extend his FBS record for consecutive games with at least one to 40 contests. Deon-Tay McManus led Marshall with 110 yards on four catches.

Marshall gets to enjoy a bye week before it returns to its schedule with a Nov. 8 game at Southern Mississippi.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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Perfumed Perez making good scents for Royals http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141025/ARTICLE/141029379 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141025/ARTICLE/141029379 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 20:48:56 -0400

By RONALD BLUM

AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Salvador Perez is a player who doesn't want to make a stink.

The upbeat All-Star catcher for the Kansas City Royals wore Victoria's Secret perfume late in the 2013 season - teammate Alcides Escobar sprayed some on him, and Perez had a four-hit game.

"We won. We celebrated. I asked him, where did you buy that?" Perez recalled this week at the World Series. "I need to buy some, maybe to wear for the rest of my life."

He stuck with the smell of success and switched this year to 212 Men by Carolina Herrera cologne. Escobar buys it for him, and Perez has gone through three bottles.

"The weirder the team, the better the team, usually," Royals outfielder Raul Ibanez said. "We've got a lot of weird stuff that goes on in here."

Perez said San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval, Detroit's Victor Martinez and Texas' Prince Fielder are among the players who have remarked about his baseball bouquet. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera asked where he could get some for himself.

Umpires also have taken notice.

"I think Jerry Meals told me: 'Salvy, you smell good,"' Perez said. "We sweat. We've got the gear. We stink."

And the strange scent of Perez and Escobar has become part of Kansas City's identity.

"I know they're sweet smelling on the bench, that's for sure," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That's one of the more unusual ones. But it's been effective, so it works for them."

Yost never wants to see his hitters take an oh-fer-4 at the plate. But Perez and his eau-fer-catcher, that's more than fine.

Still, not everyone has taken notice of the olfactory addition to the diamond.

"I don't go around smelling catcher's armpits," Joe West, the major leagues' senior umpire, said before breaking into laughter.

Perez was a 16-year-old free agent in Venezuela when he signed with the Royals in 2006. He spent parts of three seasons at rookie ball, advanced to Class A in 2009 and sped through the upper minors to make his big league debut in August 2011.

"We've been fortunate in the sense that Salvador Perez moved very quickly through our system at a premium position," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "It doesn't often happen."

Now 24, Perez has been an All-Star the last two seasons. He hit .292 with 13 homers and 79 RBIs in 2013 and .260 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs this year.

The 6-foot-3 catcher led the majors with five pickoffs in 2012 despite appearing in just 74 games. He won his first Gold Glove in 2013, his first full season as a starter, and was among the finalists announced Thursday for this year's AL award.

Perez homered to drive in Kansas City's run in its 7-1 opening loss to San Francisco, then hit a two-run double for a 5-2, sixth-inning lead as the Royals won the second game 7-2 on Wednesday night.

Perez scored moments later and got into a dustup with Giants reliever Hunter Strickland at home plate. The dispute quickly calmed down.

"I think his No. 1 unique attribute - aside from his talent, which I think puts him with the elite catchers in the league - is his energy and his excitement, his demeanor," said Jeremy Guthrie, Kansas City's Game 3 starter.

"Always very happy-go-lucky, no matter the situation: men on base, cruising, not cruising. He's always very positive. Has a smile on his face. ... That builds confidence in the pitcher, when you know he believes in you, and he's pushing for you to get over whatever obstacles are in your way."

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MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY: WVU knows what awaits in Stillwater http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141025/DM03/141029416 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141025/DM03/141029416 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 00:01:00 -0400 By Mike Casazza MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY

STILLWATER, Okla. - What we know about Saturday is No. 22 West Virginia travels to Oklahoma State, and teams with identical records that are seemingly headed in different directions will try to hang around in a conference race that already has but one unbeaten team.

What we don't know is actually sort of interesting. The Mountaineers play host to No. 10 TCU next weekend. They'll play at Mountaineer Field. We don't know when. We don't know on what channel. Basically, we don't know and the television networks don't know a whole lot about WVU so far and we're all waiting to learn a little more before making a commitment.

And that's precisely how the Mountaineers (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) would like it. They want only to prove themselves as the best team Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium and to leave the rest to the pundits.

"We're not going to worry about where we're at in the standings," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We're not going to worry about where we're at in the rankings. All we're worried about is preparing for Oklahoma State and trying to be in good spot at the end of the week. The goal is Saturday after the game to be in a good place. That's all we can worry about right now. That's all we can control, and that's all we're going to worry about."

If they find themselves where they want to be and if the Horned Frogs (5-1, 3-1) can say the same after playing host to Texas Tech, then ABC or ESPN will have two likely top-20 teams to showcase at noon, in the mid-afternoon or, most appealingly, in primetime. ESPN's College GameDay night even make a return visit after coming to campus for the game against LSU in September 2011.

And then whoever wins that game will have a healthy chance to win the Big 12. The winner will have already played the loser, as well as Oklahoma and Baylor, before playing host to Kansas State (5-1, 3-0).

It's difficult to consider the following to be the reality for WVU, a team that's ranked after a 102-week absence from the polls, but Saturday's game against the Cowboys (5-2, 3-1) is rife with traps.

The Cowboys just lost 42-9 at TCU, needed a kickoff return touchdown to put down Kansas and has 275 and 258 yards of offense and two offensive touchdowns in those two games. A back-and-forth, season-opening 41-37 loss to Florida State seems like it happened ages ago.

But Oklahoma State beat WVU in Stillwater two years ago and promises to be salty on homecoming after losing to the Mountaineers in Morgantown last season.

"They understand what is ahead of us," Holgorsen said." What I thought was a key to winning the Texas Tech game was the fact a lot of our guys had been to Lubbock, and they understood what it was about. Those same guys have been to Stillwater. They understand what's there.

"They understand the facilities, the recruiting, the quality of players there and the atmosphere. They know it's going to be challenging. And again, the overall goal is to be in a good place at the end of the week. You better do what you're supposed to on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in order to make that happen."

The Mountaineers seem to be good at that, so good that they just beat Baylor, somewhat comfortably. That says all that needs to be said about momentum, state of mind and the potential pratfalls involved with one or both.

But it just doesn't seem to exist.

"They're favored," quarterback Clint Trickett correctly said. "I don't know how that could be a trap game if they're favored. We take that attitude all the time. If somebody is thinking, 'Oh, hopefully their heads get too big,' well, we're ranked No. 22. We've still got a long way to go."

The Mountaineers were 4-8 last season and missed a bowl for the first time since 2001. A win Saturday gives them four straight Big 12 wins and makes them bowl eligible.

"We could lose the next one and have a losing season," running backs coach JaJuan Seider said. "We haven't done anything yet."

Technically, that's true, and it's certainly possible given WVU's track record. The team was 5-0 and ranked No. 5 in 2012 and then lost five in a row and finished 7-6.

Those Mountaineers couldn't deal with the highs, and many of them had the Orange Bowl under their shoulder pads. These Mountaineers have dealt with a lot of lows. The highs are new and dangerous.

"For the team it's new, but obviously Florida State had success and I've seen teams handle that in different ways," Trickett said. "I personally know how teams go, and I think we're handling it perfectly fine. Everyone has the same mentality. We're still hungry and nothing's ever enough. And we had two losses at the beginning of the season, so there's no room for error the rest of the year."

That's the truest statement in a sport filled with false leads. College football is volatile, as this season has proved, and fame can be fleeting and success short-lived. Nobody has to tell the Mountaineers, but nobody believes more in what they're doing and why it's happening.

"We're a lot more confident and we don't get rattled by situations," receiver Kevin White said. "It's not cockiness or anything. We just know what we can do. We have a great thing going here."

It took work to get it to that place, though. The season started with Holgorsen on the omnipresent hot seat. This week a fan site was naming him as a possible successor to Will Muschamp at Florida.

The defense was supposed to be lost again with a fourth coordinator in as many seasons, and fans wanted to dismiss Tony Gibson's credentials because of who he was with in the past, never mind he might actually be good at this - and this week, he was named the 247 Sports national defensive coordinator of the week.

No one was sure if Trickett would be healthy enough to play or good enough to start for the Mountaineers, who behind him are No. 6 nationally in total offense. Kevin White couldn't figure out why he wasn't himself last season. Now defenses can't figure out how to stop a Heisman Trophy candidate. The Mountaineers were a passing offense, but are setting teams up for the knockout with a train of running backs.

None of this happened slowly, but it can all go away quickly if the Mountaineers lose grasp of who they are and everything they encountered and endured to get here.

"That's our job," Holgorsen said of his coaching staff. "I think if we had a very young and immature team, then that would be a huge challenge. We have a very experienced, older team that likes each other, plays hard for each other and understands what we're trying to accomplish.

"Really, what we're trying to accomplish is to win the next game. I don't know any other way of approaching it with the team. I think we have a lot of guys that have a lot of experience that went through a lot last year and went through a lot two years ago and want to be in a good place at the end of the week."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY - Numbers & Nuggets http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141024/DM03/141029417 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141024/DM03/141029417 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:35:05 -0400 By Chuck McGill Mountaineer Gameday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -

0 - Fumble! WVU and Oklahoma State have combined to play 14 games this season. That is 64 quarters of football and more than 1,000 defensive plays from scrimmage and special teams opportunities, yet neither the Mountaineers nor Cowboys have recovered a fumble this season. Michigan is the only other FBS program with a goose egg in this category. Florida International leads all programs with 16 fumble recoveries this season.

.5 - As in games behind Big 12 leader Kansas State. West Virginia is in the thick of the conference race as the team prepares to cross the season's midpoint this Saturday at Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers are in a three-way tie for second place with Baylor and Oklahoma State.

3 - The Mountaineers have a chance to open the season with its third consecutive win in a true road game after knocking off Maryland and Texas Tech at their home venues. If WVU wins at Oklahoma State, it'll be the first time the program has won its first three true road games of the season since 2006, when the Mountaineers won at East Carolina, Mississippi State and Connecticut.

4 - First-year transfer Shaq Riddick was challenged by WVU coach Dana Holgorsen before last week's game against Baylor. Riddick's only sack of the season had come against FCS-member Towson, so Holgorsen wanted more from the senior defensive end. Riddick responded with three sacks against Baylor, raising his season total to four in seven games.

5 - Kevin White is obviously WVU's go-to receiver, but quarterback Clint Trickett likes to spread the wealth. Five players - White, Mario Alford, Jordan Thompson, Wendell Smallwood and Daikiel Shorts - have at least 200 yards receiving this season. All of those players are averaging at least 12.2 yards per reception.

6 - Kevin White made eight receptions against Baylor, but it was the balls he didn't catch and still moved the chains that raised eyebrows. White, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior receiver for WVU drew six defensive pass interference penalties against the Bears.

11 - The Mountaineers' schedule is being recognized as one of the college football's toughest. Three games against top-five opponents, plus road games against Maryland and Texas Tech, have given WVU the 11th-toughest schedule in USA Today's Sagarin ratings. Arkansas, which has four losses, holds the nation's most brutal schedule to date.

22 - West Virginia's ranking in the Associated Press top 25 poll. The Mountaineers are back in the media rankings for the first time since the week of Oct. 28, 2012. WVU appeared on 52 of 60 ballots of sportswriters nationwide, and three voters placed the Mountaineers as high as No. 13 on their ballots.

57K - The fans are coming out to Mountaineer Field this season. Through four games, WVU is averaging 57,811 fans at the 60,000-seat Milan Puskar Stadium, which ranks as the fourth-highest season average since capacity was reduced prior to the 2004 season. The best season in that span came in 2007, when the school averaged a crowd of 60,400.

102 - Numbers of weeks since West Virginia's last appearance in the Associated Press top 25 poll. The Mountaineers lost at home to TCU, 39-38, on Nov. 3 to fall out of the national rankings. That was part of a five-game losing streak.

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PREP SOCCER: Winfield girls stop Nitro, 6-0 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141023/DM03/141029498 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141023/DM03/141029498 Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:29:27 -0400 By Michael Dailey WINFIELD, W.Va. - When Nitro's girls soccer team traveled to face Winfield in a regular-season matchup, the Wildcats left Putnam County with a double-digit shutout loss.

On Thursday, the two teams met again on the same field, this time in a Class AAA Region 4, Section 1 semifinal matchup.

And while Nitro showed vast improvement in the second meeting, the Wildcats were still no match for the two-time defending state champion Generals.

Senior Jayne Lawman and junior Jordan Pauley netted two goals apiece to help the Generals overcome a sluggish first half to pull away down the stretch for a 6-0 win.

No. 1 Winfield (16-0-4) will host intra-county rival and second-ranked Hurricane (16-2-3) for the sectional title at 5 p.m. Saturday. Nitro's season ends at 6-12-0.

Winfield started slowly offensively, thanks in part to a few unlucky bounces.

The Generals peppered Nitro keeper Marcella Romeo with five first-half shots, including the game's first goal on an unassisted goal from Mary Lawman with 34:01 left in the first half.

But after that, the Generals struggled to put any distance between themselves and the Wildcats.

Mary Lawman fired another shot that bounced off the top post, followed by two shots from sister Jayne Lawman that sailed just over the top post and off the right post, respectively.

"We came out a little slow at first," said Jayne Lawman, a Marshall University signee. "We couldn't find our passes and our shots weren't going in, but that happens. You just can't get frustrated and you've just to keep going at it."

Winfield's persistence finally paid dividends with 10:16 left before the half when Pauley netted the first of her two goals.

Jayne Lawman got on the board with just one second left, when she headed in a corner kick from Josee Erlandson to make it 3-0 at the break.

The second half also began slowly for the Generals before they erupted for three goals in a 1:49 second span to put the contest out of reach.

Sydney Cavender started the second half scoring with an assist from Mary Lawman at the 22:49 mark.

Pauley notched her second goal 1:07 later to make it 5-0, before Jayne Lawman closed out the scoring with an unassisted goal with 21 minutes to play.

"We came out and capitalized on some good opportunities," said Winfield coach Marshall Hoff said of the second-half scoring. "They played us hard and they leaned on us in the box and they kept pressure on us.

"We just looked for the small gaps. That's what we knew we would capitalize on. Anytime you get that kind of numbers, you've got to be quick to finish and quick on the opportunities and we were able to do that."

Winfield dominated the action on the field in holding an 18-1 advantage in shots, and a 9-1 edge in corner kicks. Romeo finished with 13 saves, while Winfield keeper Hailey Evans finished with one.

"We played great defensively, but we just couldn't get one in the net," Nitro coach Niki Gordon said. "We had a difficult season with injuries and playing short a lot of the time. We have a small team as it is and when you have injuries it's difficult. The girls overcame that and have been working together well and playing hard. I'm proud of every one of our girls."

While Nitro prepared for next season, the Generals will gear up for another battle with the Redskins in a rematch of last season's sectional final.

"There are always good teams ahead on the schedule and there are a lot of good teams in the state, it just happens that we live real close to one and we share a rivalry with the team across the way," Hoff said. "They've got a lot of talent, so it will be a challenge and getting prepared is up to us. We need to come ready because it will be nothing less than a battle."

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WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers, Cowboys favor deep passes http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141023/DM03/141029499 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141023/DM03/141029499 Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:20:06 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Though it might seem like a trick play given the way college offenses have evolved in this era, what Oklahoma State and West Virginia will do Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium is very much their definition of normal.

In today's college football with quick releases, short throws and high-percentage plays that keep the ball moving forward, with coordinators who create space for athletes who are hard to tackle after catching easy passes, few other teams gamble or rely as much on the deep pass.

"There's been a little more of a focus on throwing to inside receivers and the short game and stuff like that to where not a lot of people are out there throwing it over the top," Mountaineers offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said, "but it's something we do a lot."

The 3:30 p.m. game on ESPN will feature the Big 12's most prolific and most persistent deep play quarterbacks. WVU's Clint Trickett leads the Big 12 with 8.74 yards per attempt and 28 pass plays covering at least 25 yards. Oklahoma State's Daxx Garman is second in the Big 12 with 14.64 yards per completion and ranks third with 19 25-yard passes.

Garman is Oklahoma State's second quarterback this season and he'll make his sixth start this Saturday. He ranks near the top of the big-play categories even though he's thrown 105 fewer passes than Trickett and 30 fewer than Baylor's Bryce Petty, who leads in yards per completion and is second in 25-yard plays.

"He does a great job throwing the deep ball," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said of Garman. "Probably the thing that concerns me more than anything is how accurate he is throwing the deep ball. They've got four or five receivers who are long and fast and go get it. They beat Texas Tech with it, so one thing we're going to have to be able to do is do a good job of defending their deep ball."

Not that either offense needed to be encouraged to throw it more often, but the defenses they'll be facing are susceptible. The Mountaineers have allowed six touchdown passes of 25 yards or more and lost starting cornerbacks Terrell Chestnut and Daryl Worley to injury against Baylor. Neither is certain to play Saturday.

Starting cornerback Ashton Lampkin has missed the past three games for the Cowboys with an injury, but could play against WVU. He was replaced by a redshirt freshman, and Oklahoma State was already starting a sophomore and redshirt freshman at safety.

"We're going to try to take advantage of that," WVU receiver Kevin White said.

The Cowboys (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) have six receivers who have caught a 25-yard pass. Seven of Garman's long completions were touchdowns and four were stopped inside the opponent's 12-yard line.

"That was what Baylor was," WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. "They were more over-the-top than anybody I'd ever broken down with deep shots. That's what scared me."

Petty entered last week's game as the Big 12's leader in 25-yard pass plays. He had just two against Gibson's hyper defense that would blitz or fake a blitz to confuse or corrupt Petty's plans.

The Cowboys have allowed a Big 12-high 18 sacks, which is tied for No. 100 nationally.

"To disrupt vertical routes, you have to get pressure on the quarterback so he sees it or gets hit, and if he sees it or if he thinks he sees it, he'll throw it quick," Gibson said.

Meanwhile, the Mountaineers have five receivers who have caught a 25-yard pass and nine of Trickett's long plays were touchdowns. WVU (5-2, 3-1) also has the nation's leading receiver in big plays. Nobody has more than White's 13 25-yard plays.

None of that is a matter of coincidence. WVU knew this was a possibility and made it a reality.

"We worked on throwing the ball vertically more than I ever have in my life because of what we believe is a great running back room and an extremely physical offensive line," Dawson said. "We figure that teams are going to have to man up at some point to stop the run, so we have to be able to throw it vertical.

"And we've worked on it. That was our biggest emphasis in the offseason, and obviously we're way better throwing and catching it."

It remains a part of WVU's practices during the season. Most days start with a drill where cornerbacks are set at different depths and with varying leverage and the quarterback and receiver are in charge of completing a deep pass.

"We haven't worked on a lot of the back-shoulder stuff because our guys are getting by them," Trickett said. "If they're even, they're leaving, and I have to go for the home run shot. If guys are winning on the edge, I've got to put it out there. It's always about letting them make a play, don't throw it out of bounds, don't throw it short. I've always got to give them a chance to make a play."

Working on deep passes is one matter, but the types of deep throws the Mountaineers rehearse make them more effective. Trickett said long throws in the middle are increasingly rare in college but have become a part of his repertoire, especially to wide receiver Mario Alford and inside receiver Jordan Thompson, who have both scored on one the past two games.

"You look around and maybe see it once or twice a game, where it used to be a consistent staple of offenses," Trickett said. "We know we're going to take those shots. That's our mentality. The shots are there and you've got to take them."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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