Harris: National title? WVU making its case
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Not since Brashear's Major Harris led his team to the Fiesta Bowl 23 years ago has West Virginia generated so much interest on the national college football scene.
The Mountaineers climbed three spots this week in The Associated Press Top 25 poll following their 48-45 win at Texas. They are No. 5 and trail only Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina and Florida.
Loaded question: Are the Mountaineers good enough to contend for the BCS national championship?
At first, I didn't think so. But now, after watching them throttle a good Texas team on the road in front of a raucous crowd of more than 100,000 fans who shook the stadium down to its foundation, I have to say yes. Heck yes!
“We set a goal at the beginning of the season to win the (Big 12) conference,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday. “We're two games into that. The next challenge is Texas Tech (on Saturday). That's what we talk about.
“I've got some guys that believe,'' Holgorsen continued. “I said it last week and at the end of this game (Texas), I like the way this team plays together. I feel like we had to play together on all three sides of the ball to win, which we did. We had to overcome adversity on all three sides, which we did. Those are some qualities of a good team, no question.”
Holgorsen's translation: Yes, we can win the BCS national championship. Next question?
WVU is very good. However, the uneven performance of the Mountaineers' defense — statistically speaking, at least — prevents them from being labeled a great team. But outside of perhaps Alabama, how many great college football teams are there this season?
West Virginia's offense is so prolific that not being a great team may not matter.
Sometimes a player comes along who is so superior to everyone else on the field that he can lift his teammates to perform at a level that didn't seem attainable.
Senior quarterback Geno Smith is that player.
I won't rattle off his litany of impressive statistics, but suffice it to say Smith ranks No. 1 nationally in passing efficiency and No. 2 in passing and total offense.
Without Smith, Holgorsen's offense would still move the ball and score lots of points, but it wouldn't be as dangerous or as difficult to beat.
And the Mountaineers wouldn't be as confident.
“The confidence is there. The trust is there. We all play as a team. We stick together,'' said Smith, who is looking more and more like a top NFL draft choice. “I always talk about how we are on offense, how our mentality is we don't care who we face. It can be an NFL defense — we're going to work extremely hard and try to win.”
Entering the Texas game, the prevailing national opinion was that although the Mountaineers averaged 53 points through their first four games, they did it against Marshall, James Madison, Maryland and Baylor. Could they do it against a team with a real defense like Texas', and could they do it in Austin in front of more than 100,000 fans on national television?
Are 48 points, 460 total yards, Smith's four touchdown passes and Andrew Buie rushing for a career-high 207 yards sufficient evidence the Mountaineers can rack up monster numbers against any opponent, anywhere?
“That certainly didn't hurt,” Holgorsen said.
“We're in the Big 12, where the offenses are so prolific it makes the defenses look bad,” Smith said. “You can see it out of conference where (Big 12 teams) step up and look really (good).”
One team's success is another team's BCS national championship coming-out party. The Mountaineers may be late coming to the party, but they're making themselves at home.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- High school notebook: TJ, Clairton head into enemy territory
- PSU Fayette men’s basketball team loses to Lock Haven
- Soutmoreland girls basketball team primary goal: playoffs
- Penn State coach fires offensive coordinator
- Norway mulls using medical heroin to prevent deadly overdoses
- Israel suspends contact with some EU groups over labels on exports
- Iran gives investors glimpse of $30 billion in oil deals to come
- Penguins centermen enjoying better faceoff success rate
- New Kensington man killed in North Buffalo crash
- Travelers advised to arrive 2 hours early for flights from Pittsburgh International Airport
- Outdoors notebook: Multiyear license buyers fish more often