WVU collapses again in blowout to K-State
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two weeks after registering one of the biggest wins in school history, West Virginia's first season in the Big 12 appears to be on the verge of a monumental collapse.
The Mountaineers suffered their second consecutive humiliating defeat, this time a 55-14 trouncing against No. 4 Kansas State on Saturday night before 60,101 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium.
“We reached our low,” quarterback Geno Smith said. “It's as low as it gets.”
A week ago, West Virginia lost a 49-14 decision at Texas Tech. This setback was far worse; it likely will topple the No. 17 Mountaineers from the polls.
Coach Dana Holgorsen promised a better effort from the Mountaineers, who played with a surprising lack of intensity against Texas Tech a week after their emotional 48-45 win at Texas vaulted them to a No. 5 ranking.
If anything, the Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2) were more lackluster, with their offense as responsible for the loss as their continued poor defensive play.
“I thought we were ready to play,” Holgorsen said. “We addressed a lot of the effort issues. We were ready to play. We played a good football team. They played as well as they can play.”
West Virginia, ranked No. 7 in total offense entering the game, was held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season. The Mountaineers didn't cross midfield until midway through the third quarter.
Tavon Austin's 100-yard kickoff return in the second quarter was the team's lone highlight.
“The schemes are fine,” Holgorsen said. “We didn't forget how to coach football. I didn't forget how to coach offense.”
Smith was outplayed by Kansas State's Collin Klein in what was billed as a matchup of Heisman Trophy-worthy quarterbacks.
Smith was held without a touchdown pass and threw his first two interceptions of the season, ending a streak of 326 passes without an interception dating to last season. Smith's touchdown pass to Austin made it 52-14 with 7:31 remaining in the game.
Klein, meanwhile, was masterful and may have moved to the top of the Heisman list.
He was responsible for seven touchdowns: four rushing and three passing. He led the Wildcats (7-0, 4-0) to scores on each of their first eight possessions. Kansas State wasn't forced to punt until the 10:33 mark of the fourth quarter.
Klein was 19 of 21 for 323 yards and didn't throw an interception. Smith was 21 of 32 for a season-low 143 yards.
“Two weeks ago we were the frontrunner,” Austin said. “I don't know where we are now.”
Defensively, West Virginia continued its season-long struggle, as the Mountaineers permitted at least 45 points for the fourth consecutive game.
When their offense was clicking, the Mountaineers were able to overcome their defensive problems. But the past two games resulted in losses because of problems on both sides of the ball.
West Virginia fell into an early hole and trailed, 31-7, at halftime.
If West Virginia's offense was a disappointment, its defensive performance was typical.
Kansas State scored on all five of its possessions in the first half. Last week Texas Tech scored 35 first-half points against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia deferred and elected to receive the second-half kickoff, but it went downhill quickly. Kansas State led 3-0 following its opening drive and 10-0 after the first quarter en route to building a 24-0 advantage.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.