With the offensive line opening huge holes that had been lacking in previous games, Garrison had 233 yards by halftime and set a freshman single-game school record. He scored on runs of 19 and 8 yards in a steady rain.
His 291 yards tied for the second-highest total in school history. His 32 carries more than doubled his season total.
“The holes were there,” Garrison said. “The linemen were doing their jobs and making holes. Most of the yards that I got came from cutting off blocks that the fullbacks made.”
It marked the most rushing yards in a growing niche of high-scoring offenses led by Holgorsen, who was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State last year and at Houston the two years before that.
“To be honest with you, we were more worried about stopping the passing game,” Clawson said. “Their quarterback is excellent and they really stretch you across the field.”
The Mountaineers showed no signs of coasting between last week’s draining home loss to LSU and the upcoming Big East opener with Connecticut. West Virginia’s 643 total yards were the most in four years and the highest ever at its 31-year-old stadium.
“We told them all week to become a smarter football team,” Holgorsen said. “We had one penalty and zero turnovers. You’ve got to get up for whatever game you’re playing.”
West Virginia did, limiting Bowling Green to 14 first downs and 217 total yards. The Falcons (3-2) entered the game averaging 38.5 points.
West Virginia overcame two early miscues on special teams by scoring on five consecutive first-half drives.
Garrison fumbled the ball inside the Bowling Green 10 late in the second quarter but West Virginia lineman Tyler Rader recovered. Smith found Brad Starks in the end zone on the next play for a 38-10 halftime lead.
Smith completed 18 of 30 passes for 238 yards. His other scoring tosses were 33 yards to Ivan McCartney and 15 yards to Ryan Nehlen.
West Virginia’s special teams were awful against LSU and the problems continued early against Bowling Green.
The Falcons’ Jerry Gates fumbled away the opening kickoff that led to a West Virginia field goal, but he returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards to setting up Schilz’s 18-yard scoring toss to Ray Hutson.
Cory Smith’s 14-yard punt on West Virginia’s next possession gave the Falcons the ball at the 50. Hutson took a reverse handoff and floated a pass toward a wide open Alex Bayer, but Tandy got there just in time to break it up in the end zone. The Falcons settled for a field goal and a 10-3 lead and didn’t score again.