West Virginia University’s Football Team had a chance to make a statement Saturday night in Baton Rouge against 15th ranked LSU, but the Mountaineers were unable to get the job done. Too bad, because this was a game that could have been won by WVU, a win that could have given the Mountaineers some national credibility. Instead, West Virginia falls to 3-1 and out of the top 25 following the 20-14 loss.
Two turnovers, including a fumble inside their own 10-yard line did the Mountaineers in. Those turnovers led to a 10-0 lead less than three minutes into the second quarter. Those points would be difficult to overcome. LSU has a talented and stingy defense and so do the Mountaineers. Going into a hostile SEC stadium for a night game is a huge challenge and giving the opponent easy scoring chances is a recipe for disaster.
So, we probably shouldn’t call the game a disaster because the score and effort were respectable. Many fans think this game figures to be the toughest of the season, but that is certainly up for debate. The Big East Conference football teams have been very unimpressive to date which has Mountaineer fans licking their chops thinking that running the table from here on out is a strong possibility.
Logic says that is a good possibility, but thinking that way may be a little too optimistic. LSU has as good a defense as WVU will see this year, but their offense is not very good at all. Any number of Big East teams have the potential to develop into better offensive teams than the Tigers before the Mountaineers play them. Even had West Virginia won the game, chances are the value of the win may have been short lived. LSU’s lack of offensive fire power will leave them extremely vulnerable when they get into the meat of their SEC schedule. Four conference losses for the Tigers would not be a surprise.
Then there are the issues that continue to plague the Mountaineers. The turnovers persist. Tyler Bitancurt missed a field goal Saturday night and had another blocked. That was the second blocked field goal this year. Poor punting was an issue Saturday as well. Patrick Peterson returned one low short kick 60 yards for a touchdown. Also, the offensive line again looked overmatched, but in this instance it may not be fair to judge them too harshly. The O-line may have actually improved. LSU’s front is the best they will see. WVU only had 58 yards rushing, but they did not yield a sack.
Further complicating things for WVU was an injury to running back Noel Devine sustained in the first quarter. That injury came on a late hit out of bounds. Devine continued to play in a limited capacity, but his effectiveness was obviously limited. Early reports indicate Devine’s injury was to his toe. As of Monday there was no word on how significant the injury is. The good news is WVU will have two weeks before playing their next game against UNLV on October 9.