Friday, October 24, 2008

Turning the Corner?

Say what you will about Auburn's disappointing season but you can't help but feel a little optimism following WVU's second half shellacking of the Tigers. I expected the Tigers to be as quick as WVU to the corner but it appeared WVU had far more speed. WVU put up 445 yards and 34 points against a tough SEC defense. And Auburn only lost to LSU by 5 points.

After some early sputters, the WVU offense found a groove with the running game and decimated the Auburn defensive line. On the other side of the ball, the WVU defense tightened up after 17 first half points and held the Tigers scoreless in the second half. Auburn's offensive woes were known before the game but no one expected the Mountaineer defense to give up a mere 260 yards.

Auburn came out with a good gameplan, which was to run the ball and chew up as much clock as possible to keep Pat White off the field and the WVU offense sputtering. But too many 3rd and longs killed that strategy by late second quarter and the Tigers were on the rope. Noel Devine found his stride and the rest, as they say, is history. A great win for the Mountaineers.

So, where does it go from here? The loss probably sealed Tuberville's fate at Auburn. I would be very surprised if he comes back for this 11th year. More interesting is what WVU can do from here. Sitting at 5-2 with 5 games remaining, this WVU team looks like a legitimate contender for another Big East crown. The offensive line finally played like a cohesive unit and the defense remained stout against a tough competitor. If WVU continues to play with the urgency and emotion they showed Thursday night, there's not a better team in the Big East. With South Florida playing in Morgantown and Pittsburgh always being de facto home game, there's not much in the way.

I'm not going to go overboard yet. Five games remain. None are easy but there are three that should be in the win column. The other two are substantial tests. Another 10-2 season is not out of the question and, if WVU can do that, another shot at a big time game. If we can bring the team that played the second half last night, that's a game I would look forward to.

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