West Virginia entered Week 7 as easily the least respected undefeated Power Five team in the country.
Despite the fact that the Mountaineers were a perfect 4-0, with three of the wins coming over Missouri, BYU and Kansas State, they were ranked 20th in the most rcent Associated Press Top 25. They were the lowest-rated unbeaten Power Five, with the only one in that undistinguished neighborhood being fellow Big 12 member and 11th-ranked Baylor. To add insult to injury, a trio of P5s, Ole Miss (No. 12), Florida State (No. 14) and Oklahoma (No. 19), were ranked ahead of WVU despite being two-loss teams.
As they exit Week 7, the Rodney Dangerfields of P5s may have earned a little respect as, in their first true road game of the season, WVU dominated Texas Tech from start to finish in an impressive 48-17 win in Lubbock. Leading the way for the Mountaineers was Tony Gibson‘s stifling and suffocating defense.
Tech entered the game leading the country in passing yards per game (544) and scoring offense (55.2 points per game). In addition to being held 38 points below their season average — their previous low was 38 in the loss to Kansas State in Week 6 — they managed “just” 345 yards through the air. In their first five games, Tech hadn’t passed for fewer 470 in any of those contests.
Offensively, the Mountaineers were led by quarterback Skylar Howard, who not only passed for 318 yards but chipped in 89 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on the ground. The passing yardage marked the third time in five games this season the senior has eclipsed the 300-yard mark.
Now, though, WVU enters the meat of their schedule, a stretch to close out the regular season that will prove, without a doubt and one way or the other, whether Dana Holgorsen‘s squad is a contender or pretender.
That journey begins with back-to-back games against 4-2 teams, at home against TCU next Saturday and on the road against Oklahoma State. After a bye for Week 10 — OK, they play Kansas, but still — they will play at Texas, then a road trip to Iowa State sandwiched in between home games against Oklahoma and unbeaten Baylor to close out the regular season.