MANHATTAN, KAN. (AP) - Tommy Tuberville and Texas Tech sure took a lot of the head-scratching out of how to slow down No. 17 West Virginia. Just in time for fourth-ranked Kansas State, too.
The Wildcats head to Morgantown on Saturday with a pretty good blueprint for success.
The difficulty is in trying to follow it.
“There might be philosophical thoughts in regards to how you defend Geno Smith and how you function on special teams that you say, `Maybe within our own schemes, we can do something,’” said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, who should be facing an ornery group of Mountaineers.
This was supposed to be a matchup of top-5 teams with national championship implications, let alone Big 12 title implications, until the Red Raiders threw a giant sombrero in those plans.
Seth Doege was 32 of 42 for 499 yards and six touchdowns against the Mountaineers last Saturday. Texas Tech had 18 plays of 15 yards or more in the 49-14 romp, while the Red Raiders defense managed to hold West Virginia to 2 for 7 on fourth-down conversions.
Smith had just 275 yards passing and a touchdown, not even close to the ridiculous numbers that he had going in: 81.4 percent completions for nearly 400 yards per game.
Even the less-respected West Virginia ground game, led by Andrew Buie, had trouble finding room in Lubbock. The Mountaineers managed only 3.7 yards per carry, almost a full yard less than they had the previous week, when they outscored Texas 48-45 on the road.
“It was embarrassing. Guys were disappointed. It’s no fun for anybody,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “And so we got in here, I didn’t sugarcoat anything. It wasn’t a positive session. It wasn’t, `It’s going to be OK. Don’t worry about it.’ That’s not what we did. Our job is to coach them and tell them what reality is.”
The reality is the Mountaineers (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) struggled on offense for the first time all season against a defense that was able to get off the field on fourth down.
They couldn’t spring the big play with wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedmon Bailey like they had in piling up 70 points in a victory over Baylor in their first foray into the Big 12.
They couldn’t get off the field on defense, either.
That may be the biggest key to the success of Texas Tech, Snyder said.
“Part of it is their quarterback is extremely talented as well,” Snyder said of Doege, who carved up the Mountaineers on a windswept day in West Texas. “It was kind of a matchup that tended to favor Texas Tech in regards to the passing game.”