MORGANTOWN - After Shawne Alston's 123-yard performance in No. 5 WVU's season-opening victory over Marshall University talk about the Mountaineers' lack of a running game took a back seat to the passing success of senior quarterback Geno Smith.
However, the sudden loss of Alston, who suffered a deep thigh bruise in the victory over James Madison and saw limited action in the win over Maryland, caused those concerns to resurface as the Mountaineers prepared to enter Big 12 play against Baylor.
Those concerns, however, were somewhat dismissed following Andrew Buie's 82-yard effort in WVU's 70-63 win over the Bears and nearly completely forgotten after the sophomore went off for a career-high 207 yards and two touchdowns in last week's victory over then-No. 11 Texas.
"I don't really know," said Buie about his effort against the Longhorns. "It was a good win against Texas. We were glad that we were able to go out there and put that win together.
"Now, it's about moving forward and getting ready for Texas Tech. I just want to go out and play my game. If the opportunities are there, I just want to make the most of my opportunities and play ball."
Those opportunities, however, may be rare as West Virginia's top rusher will face a Red Raiders' defense that not only leads the Big 12 in total defense (210.0 ypg), but also rushing defense (92.6 ypg).
"The offensive line did a phenomenal job up front and opened big creases (against Texas)," continued Buie, who leads the Mountaineers in rushing with 433 yards and five touchdowns on 83 carries. "The fullbacks did a good job. The guys out on the perimeter did a good job blocking downfield. It was a total team effort on offense that allowed me to get those yards."
A similar effort on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium will help West Virginia maintain their unbeaten mark and take one more step in capturing the team's first Big 12 title in its first season in the conference.
"Defensively, they're one of the top teams in the country," head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They have given up 200 yards per game, so people haven't moved the ball on them.
"We were in here 16 hours yesterday (Monday) trying to figure out creative ways to get first downs. They do a good job against the run, they do a good job against the pass and the create turnovers, and we're going to have to play as good as we have all year offensively."
That hasn't been a problem in WVU's first five contest as the Mountaineers' lead the Big 12 in passing efficiency (196.0 percent), are second in pass offense (406.8 ypg) and third in both scoring (52.0 ppg) and total offense (570.8 ypg).
"They have a really good defense as well," said Smith. "Every game has its own story, and I expect them to be tough. On the road, it is kind of similar to what we faced this past weekend at Texas with a hostile crowd.
"It should be a good game."