West Virginia 55, Bowling Green 10
An announced crowd of 46,603 saw freshman Dustin Garrison run for a career-high 291 yards and score two touchdowns, and quarterback Geno Smith pass for 238 yards and three TDs to give 22nd-ranked West Virginia a 55-10 victory over Bowling Green at Milan Puskar Stadium.
The 55 points scored is the second time this year the Mountaineers have eclipsed the 50-point mark in a game, and the WVU offense finished the game with a season-high 643 total yards, coming 31 yards shy of the school record of 674 total yards produced against Washington & Lee in 1923.
"It's a work in progress," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said of his offense. "A lot of people get aggravated with me saying that, a lot of people want instant results, but the reality of it is it takes snaps to be good at it."
Prior to the game, 25 former West Virginia University quarterbacks were invited back to campus to recognize Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen and the newly created Don Nehlen Quarterback Scholarship.
Nehlen and many of his former QBs watched Garrison, a Pearland, Texas, resident, get a helmet sticker for his performance against the Falcons today by setting a single-game school record for freshman runners and producing the second-best single game performance in school history, matching Kerry Marbury’s 291 yards against Temple on Oct. 23, 1971.
Kay-Jay Harris’ 337 yards against East Carolina on Sept. 4, 2004 is the WVU single-game rushing standard.
Garrison, who came into today’s game with 65 yards on just 13 carries, nearly duplicated West Virginia’s four-game team rushing total of 306 yards.
"If you look at 16 games on his high school film last year, it's like that," said Holgorsen. "He's used to 200-yard games. The more you give it to him and the more he plays, the better he gets."
Overall, the Mountaineer ground game churned out 360 yards - the most by a WVU team since producing 376 at Louisville in 2008.
Garrison’s legs helped West Virginia’s offense score on six of its first eight offensive possessions of the first half to give the Mountaineers a 28-point lead at the break.
Smith hooked up with Ivan McCartney, Ryan Nehlen and Brad Starks for TD throws of 33, 15 and 6 yards, backup running back Shawne Alston bulled in from the 8, Garrison scored a 19-yard TD run, and Tyler Bitancurt kicked a 30-yard field goal in a near-spotless first half performance for the WVU offense.
The only glaring negative was West Virginia’s kickoff coverage unit, which gave up a 77-yard return to BooBoo Gates that set up Bowling Green’s only TD, and later giving up another 36-yard return to Gates in the second quarter.
The Mountaineers scored on their opening possession of the second half (a Garrison 8-yard touchdown run), and later tacked on another Bitancurt field goal, this one from 45 yards, to make it 48-10.
West Virginia’s final TD came with backup quarterback Paul Millard in the game, Millard hooking up with Stedman Bailey for 45-yard pass play that set up Alston’s second TD run, also of eight yards, with 7:52 remaining.
Smith’s 238 yards passing came on 18 completions and now gives the junior 4,881 yards to move past Dan Kendra for seventh on the WVU career passing list.
Overall, Holgorsen said he was pleased with the effort put forth by his guys up front on the offensive line.
"We're getting better at it," Holgorsen said. "We're targeting better and finishing blocks better."
The West Virginia defense, which came into the game creating only three turnovers and one sack, picked off three Matt Schilz passes and recovered a fumble, and also sacked him twice. Two of the three the team’s interceptions came from senior corner Keith Tandy, Terence Garvin got the other one.
"It should have been three," said Holgorsen of Tandy's two-pick performance. "It was a matter of time with him. He's done that a lot. We haven't been getting it for whatever reason and he made two plays and should've had three picks."
Schilz, who came into the game ranked 15th in the country in passing yardage averaging 292 yards per game, managed to throw for just 114 yards, completing 13 of 25 passes.
Stedman Bailey led West Virginia with four catches for 112 yards - his third straight 100-yard receiving game.
Jamel Martin led Bowling Green (3-2) with 111 yards on the ground – the second time this season the Mountaineer defense has permitted the opposing team’s ball carrier to eclipse the 100-yard mark this season (Maryland’s Davin Meggett had 113 yards on 19 carries).
"This is a game when you play a team the caliber of West Virginia, you better bring your 'A' game," said Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson. "You need to play well and you can't turn the football over."
West Virginia (4-1) opens Big East play next Saturday against Connecticut, which dropped to 2-3 after suffering a 38-31 loss to Western Michigan today.
It was a particularly rough day for the Big East, 16th-ranked USF getting blown out at Pitt 44-17 on Thursday night and Louisville falling 17-13 to Marshall earlier today.
WVU Baseball Experience in Moore, Okla.
Big 12 Championship Report 3
Mountaineers Speak on CNN
Big 12 Championship Report 2
Big 12 Championships Report
Harrison Musgrave strikes out 14 in TCU victory