LUBBOCK, Texas -- The West Virginia team that dazzled the country for five weeks got roped by Texas Tech Saturday, losing big -- very big -- to the Red Raiders, 49-14.
Not only did Texas Tech gash the Mountaineers defense for 438 first-half yards and five touchdowns, but West Virginia's offense, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Geno Smith found no traction on the windy West Texas plains.
Smith completed 29 of 55 passes for 295 yards and one touchdown, overthrowing a few, his usual touch absent on others. He was hardly alone as the offense struggled to run the ball and converted 10 of 21 third downs and 1 of 6 fourth downs.
It was West Virginia's largest margin of defeat since a 45-3 loss against Miami in 2001, and the results could send them skidding out of the top 10.
"There's no excuses for what happened. I was off," said Smith after the Mountaineers fell to 5-1 overall, 2-1 in the Big 12 Conference. "Wasn't hitting my targets, wasn't hitting my reads. I could say a number of things I did wrong, but, overall, it's a team game. We win as a team, lose as a team. No reason to hang our heads."
Dana Holgorsen, who returned to where he coached at for seven years, was abrupt in his postgame remarks.
"The bottom line is this. They played better than we did on all three sides of the ball," Holgorsen said. "They played harder than we did. Effort was harder. They outcoached us. We let the situation get to us."
He also said the 20 mph winds, which gusted to more than 30at times, affected Smith.
"Geno let the wind affect him. I've played around here for eight years, and it wasn't any windier today," Holgorsen said. "It's a nuisance, but, if you let that be an excuse, it's going to mess with you, and I think it did."
His quarterback refused to use that as an excuse, saying: "The wind didn't bother me."
The Mountaineers were in the deepest hole of the season by halftime, trailing, 35-7, after the defense gave up 438 yards and seven plays of more than 20.
Texas Tech's defense was doing just about everything right, starting by pressuring Smith, limiting the rushing game to 30 yards on 12 carries, and covering every receiver tight.
"What they did is they manned us up and rushed four at times," quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said. "They were getting the pass rush [by] rushing four. We couldn't get open. It was one of those days Geno wasn't on, wasn't throwing it the way he normally does.
"It was a tough overall game for everybody. I give them a lot of credit. They mixed up coverages and kept us thinking."
Smith's counterpart Seth Doege had quite a day for the Red Raiders while his passes wended their way through the West Virginia secondary for touchdowns of 39, 19, 16, 2, 29 and7 yards.
He completed 32 of 42 passes for 499 yards and one interception (by freshman Karl Joseph) while the Red Raiders offense gained an average of 9.5 yards per play.
"Well, what a game?" Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Who would have ever thought that that game would have been pretty much put away going into the fourth quarter."
Doege marched his team to a 14-0 lead with a 39-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jace Amaro, then, two drives later, a 19-yard pass to a diving Eric Ward, who planted a foot in the end zone with possession before falling out of play.
The Red Raiders also got a rushing touchdown just before the half.
With 35 seconds to play, running back SaDale Foster busted loose for a 53-yard touchdown, outrunning multiple would-be tacklers to the end zone.
The list of injuries to West Virginia mounted throughout the game.
Defensive end Will Clarke did not dress because of an apparent knee injury and running back Shawne Alston did not play because of a thigh bruise. Leading receiver Stedman Bailey left the game and did not play in the second half with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Cornerback Brodrick Jenkins also left the game, and linebacker Isiah Bruce suffered a hip pointer, although he said he should be back next week.wvusports