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MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: WVU pulls off upset

As sports fans, many of us fall into the trap of putting far too much emphasis on the most recent game played by our favorite team. When an outcome is negative, we often view future prospects through a dark, cloudy prism.

So after the losing performance at Texas Tech a couple of weeks ago there was a scramble to exit the bandwagon. That included your Monday Morning Quarterback. Now just a week later, we have egg on our face. To avoid accountability I considered claiming someone hacked my Twitter account. Except I don’t have a Twitter account.

The first quarter Saturday was an extension of the offensive struggles of the Mountaineers in previous outings. West Virginia could not take advantage of two interceptions, and concluded a 16 play drive by running six plays inside the Kansas State 7 yard line without denting the end zone.

But once the second quarter began, lightning struck. The WVU offense scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions on drives of 66, 51 and 69 yards. Suddenly everything was clicking. In the second stanza alone, the Mountaineers amassed 217 total yards.

After Kansas State scored before the half to close to within 24-10, fans knew the outcome was far from decided, as the Wildcats had proven their mettle in a 21-point second-half comeback earlier in the season at Oklahoma. But West Virginia began the third quarter with a six-minute, 14-play drive resulting in a field goal, and after an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown by Dylan Tonkery the game was well in hand.

Virtually all of the failures that resulted in two previous losses were reversed. The Mountaineers were successful in running the football, gaining 184 yards while completely shutting down the Kansas State rushing attack, limited them to a paltry 41 yards on 23 carries. Receivers didn’t drop any passes. WVU committed only five penalties. On third down conversions, West Virginia was a solid 9-18, and plus two in turnovers.

The defense continued to play well, holding Kansas State to just 225 yards. The special teams were also solid. Placekicker Evan Stealey was injured attempting to make a tackle on a kickoff return, but backup Casey Legg stepped in and was successful on both of his field goal attempts.

Overall it was the best performance by the Mountaineers in the tenure of head coach Neal Brown. It also was the fifth consecutive win over Kansas State.

THIS SATURDAY: West Virginia has won on the road at Texas three out of four trips since joining the Big 12. The Longhorns have had a roller coaster thus far in 2020, playing three overtime games and another decided by two points, but will be riding high after Oklahoma State gave a game away Saturday allowing Texas an upset win. Although the Longhorns defense has been suspect, their offense is led by four-year starter at quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who repeatedly makes plays when a game is on the line. The Mountaineers seem to do their best when I pick them to lose, so let’s try it again. TEXAS 31, WEST VIRGINIA 24.

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