It was seven up and five down for Mountaineer football in 2012 after some were predicting a possible run at a national title with all of the offensive firepower West Virginia had returning.
No, things didn’t turn out quite the way many people were expecting in West Virginia’s inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference, but a couple bounces of the ball in another direction might have meant a few more victories for the Mountaineers.
Still, there were many unforgettable moments in 2012 – many good, and yes, some bad – so here they all are, 10 of the most unforgettable ones, wrapped up into one big package and sitting under the tree just like all of those other packages that you are hopefully unwrapping this morning.
By the way, thanks for all of your suggestions on twitter.10. Another Marshall mauling
The final Friends of Coal Bowl for the foreseeable future ended just like the prior six – a West Virginia victory. The 11th-ranked Mountaineers scored just about every time they had the ball in the first half in rolling to a convincing 69-34 victory. WVU’s only misfire of the first half was a failed fourth and goal play inside the Herd five when a scrambling Geno Smith
came up short of the goal line.
West Virginia ran for 331 yards behind Shawne Alston
’s 16-carry, 123-yard, two-touchdown performance, Smith passed for 323 yards and four touchdowns, and the Mountaineer D got into the act when Isaiah Bruce
returned a Rakeem Cato fumble 43 yards for a touchdown and Doug Rigg
nearly added another defensive score when he was hauled down inside the 10 to set up a short K.J. Myers TD catch.
“They weren't one-dimensional at all,” said Marshall coach Doc Holliday, a former Mountaineer player and assistant coach. “They were able to run it. They were able to throw it. Unfortunately we didn't get them in the punt formation enough.”
The last time the two schools ended play 89 years ago, in 1923, West Virginia walloped the Herd 81-0. For a good portion of this game it looked like the Mountaineers were going to exceed that point total – that is until Coach Dana Holgorsen called off the dogs. West Virginia has won all 12 meetings against its state brethren, including its two trips to Huntington in 2010 and 2007.9. Andrew Buie goes for a career-high 207 Yards against Texas
With West Virginia’s pass offense eating up huge chunks of yardage in victories over Marshall, James Madison, Maryland and Baylor, Dana Holgorsen thought the time was right to roll out his Trojan horse in the form of sophomore tailback Andrew Buie
With ninth-ranked Texas paying close attention to playmakers Tavon Austin
and Stedman Bailey
in the passing game, Holgorsen decided to give the ball to his running back and he responded with a 31-carry, 207-yard, two-TD performance against the Longhorns. Buie also caught three passes for 66 yards in West Virginia’s 48-45 victory.
“We turned them into a running football team. We got what we wanted,” said Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “So many runs out there that we will be unhappy with.”
“Everyone knows who Stedman (Bailey) and Tavon (Austin) are by now, right?” added West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “When teams take that away it is going to be a little bit of a grind because we have to chip away and chip away and run the ball.”8. Kansas State dominates the Mountaineers in Morgantown
After watching fourth-ranked Kansas State score at will on West Virginia’s defense, it’s difficult to believe that the Mountaineers were actually the favored team coming into this game, but that was the case. It was easily the most dominating performance by an opposing team in Morgantown since 1986, when top-ranked Miami routed a bad West Virginia team, 58-14, behind the passing of Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde.
K-State’s Collin Klein, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2012, was equally impressive by running for four touchdowns and throwing for three more in a 55-14 Wildcats victory. The K-State defense was also impressive by limiting West Virginia’s high-powered offensive attack to just 243 total yards.
Old-timers usually bring up the game Roger Staubach had in Navy’s 51-7 decimation of West Virginia in 1963, but Klein’s performance was much, much better. That’s because Klein played most of the game while Staubach spent most of his watching from the sidelines with his shoulder pads off as the Midshipmen rolled to a big early lead.
"What do you want me to do?" asked WVU coach Dana Holgorsen of his defense’s inability to stop Kansas State. "We played somewhere in the neighborhood of probably 30 guys on defense. They are what we got."7. TCU’s Gary Patterson rolls the dice in double overtime to defeat West Virginia
Gary Patterson showed Mountaineer football fans why he has won a whole bunch of football games at TCU. Patterson’s Horned Frogs were dead in the water midway through the fourth quarter, trailing West Virginia by 10 points in a game the Mountaineers seemed had under control. But TCU, playing its third string quarterback Trevone Boykin, was able to fight back and tie the game early in the fourth quarter when Jaden Oberkrom kicked a 26-yard field goal to make it 24-24.
Then, with 3:19 left in the game, Tavon Austin
took a TCU punt 76 yards for a touchdown to give the Mountaineers a 31-24 lead. All West Virginia’s defensive players had to do was keep TCU in front of them for another three minutes and the game was over. They couldn’t. West Virginia’s secondary lost track of Josh Boyce down the far sideline and Boykin could have thrown him the football with either arm – that’s how open Boykin was – and Boykin ran the remaining distance for a 94-yard touchdown to tie the game at 31.
Prior to that, West Virginia’s offense failed to convert a third down play on TCU’s side of the field that would have enabled the Mountaineers to run out the clock. WVU also had a chance to win the game in the first overtime when Oberkrom missed a chip-shot field goal try, but Tyler Bitancurt
’s 29-yard attempt to win it was blocked by Jason Verrett.
In the second overtime, Stedman Bailey
put West Virginia back on top, 38-31, with a 25-yard reception, but the Horned Frogs answered with some razzle dazzle on their next possession when wide receiver Corey Fuller took a reverse and threw the ball to wide open tight end Brandon Carter for a 25-yard TD.
Patterson, unwillingly to kick the PAT to send it into a third overtime, chose to go for the two-point conversion to either win it or lose it. Boykin rolled out to his right and fired a low pass to Boyce that he was able to catch before it hit the turf, giving TCU a 39-38 victory.
“In these environments you have to go for it,” Boyce said. 6. The defense finally comes to the rescue at Iowa State
West Virginia’s beleaguered defense came into the Iowa State game ranked 120th in against the pass, 119th in scoring, and 117th in yards allowed, but the Mountaineers finally came up with a play when they needed it late in a 31-24 victory against the Cyclones.
After Tavon Austin
’s 75-yard reception and subsequent two-point conversion gave West Virginia a 31-24 lead with less than seven minutes remaining, Iowa State marched right down the field – with the help of the Mountaineer defense. Two key personal foul penalties helped give the Cyclones a first and goal at the WVU seven with less than four minutes to go. There, Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads chose to give the football to his 245-pound battering ram Jeff Woody - just as he had done so many times before with great success this season.
Woody took the ball from quarterback Sam Richardson and ran to the five where he was met by a submarining Darwin Cook
. Cook jarred the football loose and freshman Karl Joseph
recovered the ball in the end zone, enabling West Virginia to run out the clock to end its five-game losing streak and become bowl eligible.
“I can give you a thousand different excuses of reasons why we wouldn’t be able to play and come out of here with a victory, but the guys were determined to get the win and I’m proud of them,” said Coach Dana Holgorsen after the game.5. Sooners late
Landry Jones passed for 554 yards and six touchdowns – the last one coming with 24 seconds left to lift 13th-ranked Oklahoma to a 50-49 come-from-behind victory over West Virginia in another wild Big 12 game at Milan Puskar Stadium.
The game came down to Oklahoma’s final drive when the Sooners, trailing 49-44 and with two timeouts remaining, were able to use a 46-yard kickoff return by Brennan Clay to get the football near midfield. Right away Jones went to work, hitting Kenny Stills for six yards to the WVU 48 and then finding Justin Brown for 36 yards to the West Virginia 12. The Mountaineers had three different defenders surrounding Brown at about the 35-yard line, but all three missed him as he made a quick move to the inside and ran down to the 12.
At that point, with the clock winding down inside of two minutes, Stoops chose to keep the clock running and either win it or lose it with his offense on the field. Following a two-yard loss by running back Damien Williams, Stoops burned his second timeout with 31 seconds left after Jones’s 10-yard pass to Brown came up two yards short of the sticks at the 4.
Blake Bell came in the game to run a quarterback sneak and was thrown for a yard loss on third down, forcing Stoops to use his last timeout with 26 seconds remaining. The winning play was a quick slant to Stills when he was able to beat Ishmael Banks
to the inside for the ball. Stills also caught red zone touchdown passes of 4, 11 and 7 yards.
“I’m proud of our coaches and I’m proud of our players who put us in positions to win the game,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.”4. Stedman Bailey goes off on Baylor
Long-time Mountaineer football fans likely recall the late Chris Henry running up and down the field on Syracuse’s secondary in 2003? Henry finished that game with a school-record 209 yards receiving on just six grabs in that 34-23 West Virginia victory.
Well, Stedman Bailey
obliterated Henry’s record with one of the most dominant offensive performances in school history (13 catches for 303 yards and five touchdowns) – and he wasn’t even the game’s leading receiver. That was accomplished by Baylor’s Terrance Williams, who caught 17 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns to turn this game into one of the wildest in college football history.
After a first quarter that saw Bailey catch just three passes for 18 yards, the junior caught fire in the second quarter, catching touchdown passes of 47, 20 and 2 yards as the two teams played to a 35-all halftime tie.
In the second half, Bailey caught his fourth touchdown pass -an 87-yarder - to give the Mountaineers a 63-49 lead with 13:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. Then, he added a 39-yard touchdown reception with 5:55 to go to help West Virginia hit the 70-point mark. WVU needed all 70 points as Baylor kept matching West Virginia touchdown for touchdown.
“Not every Big 12 game is like this,” said Holgorsen. “Not every Big 12 offense is like this and not every game is going to be like this. It was a situation where both offenses were playing at a pretty high level.”
That goes double for Stedman Bailey
.3. A big night in Austin, Texas
Fourteen times West Virginia has played in front of crowds of more than 80,000 and all 14 times the Mountaineers lost the football game. In 1991, when West Virginia played before 96,445 at eighth-ranked Penn State, it seemed like the pre-recorded Lion roar that the public address system played after each Nittany Lion touchdown was never going to stop. Penn State won that game 51-6.
Well, West Virginia faced 11th-ranked Texas in front of 101,851 – the most fans ever to witness a Mountaineer football team – and West Virginia pulled out a heart-stopping 48-45 victory. The most poignant moment of the game came at the beginning of the fourth quarter when Darrell K. Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium literally started shaking as everyone got up on their feet to House of Pain’s Jump Around.
And right there jumping up and down with all of them on the far side of the field was the West Virginia football team.
“To send 90,000 people home,” Stedman Bailey
said of the silence in the stadium after the game, “it doesn't get any funner than that.”
West Virginia overcame a 38-34 third quarter deficit when the Mountaineers got fourth-quarter scores from Bailey and Andrew Buie
, who finished with a career-high 207 yards rushing. And it was Buie’s legs that won the game for the Mountaineers as he ran seven times on the winning march, including jaunts of 11, 22 and 14 yards, before his game-clinching five-yard touchdown run.
"I've been here when it was not loud, but it was loud tonight," said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. "And for us to be able to overcome that was pretty cool."2. Geno Smith throws for a school-record 656 yards and eight touchdowns against Baylor
If the 2012 season would have ended on Sept. 29, Geno Smith
would have won the Heisman Trophy. There wasn’t a pundit with a microphone of them or behind a keyboard who wasn’t willing to give it to Smith after his logic-defying, 45-of-51, 656-yard, eight-touchdown passing afternoon against Baylor.
The 45 completions, 656 yards and eight touchdowns were all WVU records. His 88 percent completion percentage was the best by any college quarterback with more than 50 passing attempts. After the game, instead of talking about all of his passing yardage and touchdowns, Smith was thinking more about the six incomplete passes he threw.
“I could’ve completed those five or six passes that I had incomplete; we didn’t score that first drive; we had a couple drives that stalled, a couple situations where I forced some balls and I could’ve scrambled and picked up three or four yards,” Smith said.
“Can you please tell me how you can improve on that?” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen added.
Smith had two more touchdown passes than he had incomplete passes in leading the ninth-ranked Mountaineers to a 70-63 victory over 25th-rated Baylor in one of the wildest offensive shootouts in Big 12 history.
Oh, by the way, the game was West Virginia’s first as a new Big 12 Conference member.
There were 19 combined touchdowns, and of those 19 scoring drives, 16 were accomplished in less than three minutes, plus, the combined 133 points scored were three shy of the NCAA record of 136 produced by Navy and North Texas (74-62) in 2007. It was also the most combined points scored in a football game involving a West Virginia team.
And believe it or not, nine points were also left on the field – Baylor’s kicker Aaron Jones missed two field goal tries and West Virginia’s Tyler Bitancurt
missed wide right on a 50-yard field goal try on WVU’s opening drive.
“Both offenses played well, but to say that the defenses didn’t play well is an understatement,” admitted Holgorsen.
Thanks, of course, to guys like Geno Smith
.1. Tavon awesome!
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was handed a stat sheet after watching his defense give up 49 points in a one-point victory at West Virginia.
“Do I have to look at them?” he asked. “I don’t want to see them.”
At some point he had to look at them, and what he saw was Tavon Austin
rush for a school record 344 yards, catch four passes for 82 yards and produced 146 additional yards in kickoff returns. When you add it all up, that comes out to 575 all-purpose yards, just six shy of a 12-year NCAA record set by Utah State’s Emmett White against New Mexico State in 2000.
Against Oklahoma, it was the first time West Virginia used Austin predominantly as a running back.
“Obviously we weren’t ready for it,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. “It did really mess us up in what we were doing and how we needed to play.”
Austin established school records for rushing and all-purpose yardage while also setting the Big 12 all-purpose yardage record previously held by Texas’ Hollis Mitchell in 2000 when he managed 375 all-purpose yards against Kansas.
Stoops has seen a bunch of great performances through the years in the Big 12 and what Austin did to his team is comparable to any that he has witnessed.
"He's right up there with anybody," Stoops said.Check out Antonik's new book The Backyard Brawl: Stories from One of the Weirdest, Wildest, Longest Running, and Most Intense Rivalries in College Football History now available in bookstores. A portion of the sales benefit the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Also, be sure to "Like" the new Backyard Brawl Facebook page and tell us your personal WVU-Pitt story.