By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Can West Virginia’s inconsistent football team rise up to the occasion and upset Texas Tech here Saturday as it did against favored Oklahoma State in the last home game?
That’s the big question going into the noon kickoff of the homecoming clash between the Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) and unbeaten TTU (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) in Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
The Red Raiders, ranked No. 16 in the national polls, have been installed as a 7-point favorite.
Texas Tech trimmed WVU 49-14 a year ago in Lubbock, Tex., in the schools’ first meeting as Big 12 Conference rivals.
WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen thinks last week’s bye week was beneficial to his team. The Mountaineers were rejuvenated and hopeful to bounce back from the 73-42 beating at Baylor in the last outing.
“I do think we will be prepared for what Texas Tech brings to the table,” Holgorsen said at his weekly press conference.
“Offensively, it is something that we know very well… Obviously, the challenge is to stop it.
“They play very upbeat and with very high energy.” While Tech has a new defensive scheme and a new head coach, Holgorsen thinks “it should be a great game in Morgantown, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The third-year head mentor had not announced on Thursday, prior to his weekly Sports Line talk show, who will be WVU’s starting quarterback. A spokesman for the football program said “that could be a game-time decision.”
Sophomore linebacker Isaiah Bruce said, “The bye week was a big help. We got to really focus on us, and what we really could do to get better at.”
Jared Barber, a junior linebacker, noted that he has been “absolutely playing with a chip on my shoulder.” That’s probably the main reason he’s the Mountaineers’ leading defensive performer at the season’s halfway mark.
Barber has 41 tackles (26 solos), with 3.5 tackles for lost yardage.
Senior running back Charles Sims, a transfer from Houston, remains the top rusher, with a net 400 yards on 97 attempts and has scored four touchdowns. His average is exactly 80 yards per game.
Here’s a comparison of this season’s statistics between the two teams:
-- Scoring offense—Texas Tech 41.0 points per game, WVU 24.0.
-- First downs—TTU 172, WVU 116.
-- Rushing offense— TTU 145.2 yards per game, WVU 147.5.
-- Passing offense—TTU 408.8 yards per game, WVU 245.3.
-- Total offense—TTU 554.0 ypg, WVU 392.3.
-- Average time of possession— TTU 28:17 per game, WVU 28:37.
-- Third down conversions—TTU 50 in 105 attempts (48 percent), WVU 26 in 89 tries (29 percent).
-- Fourth down conversions—2 for 5 (40 percent), WVU 3 for 9 (33 percent).
NOTE: In a column earlier, it should have read that Tom Woodeshick’s 10-year tenure was the longest in WVU history by a Mountaineer running back— not by any RBs elsewhere nationally.