The Big 12 has had a very rough month of September but one of the few bright spots for the league has to be the play of West Virginia in racing out to a hot start to begin the season.
The Mountaineers started rolling on offense and didn’t really stop on Saturday afternoon but needed their defense to come up in a clutch situation to stay undefeated, putting away a pesky BYU team 35-32. As a result, Dana Holgorsen’s squad may have just installed themselves as the Big 12 favorites and de facto playoff hope after the first month of the season.
Quarterback Skyler Howard was nearly perfect on the day, going 31-of-40 for 332 yards with a score and an interception. Despite spreading the ball around to 10 different receivers in the outing, Howard’s favorite target was the uber-productive Shelton Gibson — who didn’t score but did tally 144 yards on just four catches.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill wasn’t quite as sharp as his counterpart but did help rally the Cougars early in the fourth quarter to cut it to a one-score game with nearly six minutes left. However he tossed interceptions on back-to-back drives to end the game and drop the team to 1-4 with yet another narrow loss. Running back Jamaal Williams was a nice bright spot for the team however, as he ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Though the shaky ending may have caused a few scared looks at FedEx Field among the Mountaineers faithful, West Virginia will likely find themselves in the top 25 on Sunday and one of the surprising favorites to win the whacky Big 12. Holgorsen entered 2016 on a bit of a hot seat but with such a good start to the season, things appear to be going just fine in Morgantown ahead of next week’s conference opener against Kansas State.