The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 19, 2013

WVU begins second half against Texas Tech

The first half of the season is over, and if West Virginia fans were prone to motion sickness, they likely had to pull out the leftover bags from their last airplane trip.

There were plenty of highs — especially the 30-21 win over No. 11 Oklahoma State the last time the Mountaineers took to the turf at Milan Puskar Stadium — and some extreme lows — like the 37-0 loss at Maryland and the 73-42 loss at Baylor.

The formula for the first half stayed the same — win one, lose one, win one, lose one. WVU alternated victories and losses, winning every game at home and losing every game on the road.

The first half came to a close with the Mountaineers holding a 3-3 overall record and a 1-2 Big 12 mark.

The second half, following a bye week, begins today, when WVU hosts No. 16 Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) for a homecoming matchup scheduled for a noon kickoff. Fox Sports 1 will carry the action live.

It will be the third straight ranked team the Mountaineers will face and the fourth straight undefeated opponent.

“We started talking about that back in January,” said first-year defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. “It’s the Big 12. You beat Oklahoma State, then you have an undefeated team waiting on you. It’s no different now. We have another undefeated team. Texas Tech  is a top 15 team in the country.

“People forget that these games are now five hours long. There is a lot of mental stress that goes into each and every game. You have to be able to handle it. The mental part of it is probably just as taxing as the physical part  of it.”

There’s plenty of motivation for the Mountaineers. Coming off an embarrassing performance the last time out against No. 17 Baylor, WVU is looking to prove that the team that beat OSU is more indicative of this year’s group than the one that wasn’t competitive in Waco, Texas.

“It’s actually good,” said sophomore linebacker Isaiah Bruce of facing another difficult challenge. “It gives us a chance to bring them down a level. It definitely makes us step up our game — going against an undefeated team. It just makes us want to play even harder.”

There’s also the memory of the 2012 meeting between the two teams. A 5-0 WVU squad made the trip to Lubbock, Texas, ranked among the top 5 teams in the nation. The Mountaineers left at 5-1 after a 49-14 setback, and the loss set off a string of five straight losses that turned a dream season into a nightmare.

“We will definitely be playing with a chip on our shoulders after last season,” said senior offensive lineman Pat Eger. “We need to worry about playing West Virginia football. At the end of the day, if we go out there and play for four quarters with great effort, great energy and Mountaineer football, we have a great opportunity to win.”

Texas Tech and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury have been impressive, scoring 40 or more points in four of six games and throwing for more than 400 yards per contest. Today’s game, though, will be the first real road test. The Red Raiders opened up the season at SMU and played its only conference road game in front of a small crowd at Kansas.

But the atmosphere that Kingsbury and freshman quarterback Davis Webb will experience today will be something new.

“I think our kids are more excited more than anything,” said Kingsbury, who got his first college coaching job at Houston under offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, now the head coach at WVU. “Most of them have never been to West Virginia in their lives. They say the stadium is unbelievable. The fans are unbelievable, so it will be a great atmosphere for all of us to experience.”

— E-mail: chuffman and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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