Posted by Chip Patterson
WEST VIRGINIA WON. After trailing 12-10 at halftime, West Virginia rolled off 45 unanswered points in the route of Norfolk State. Quarterback Geno Smith led the way for the offensive onslaught, throwing for 372 yards and four touchdowns. Even backup Paul Millard got a taste of the pass happy scheme, completing 5 of 6 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown in the final scoring drive of the game.
WHY WEST VIRGINIA WON: Norfolk State was penalized 19 times for 169 yards.
Yes, that's NINETEEN times for 169 yards - nearly double the total rushing yards for the Spartans. The Mountaineer defense held Norfolk State to 2-for-15 on third downs and the offense was only able to pickup 285 adds of total offense. The execution errors in the second half, along with allowing Smith to have his way with the secondary, put the game out of reach fast.
WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: It only took 13 total plays and under five minutes for the Mountaineers to reclaim the lead and begin piling on the punishment. Norfolk State picked up just 16 yards in that span, the Mountaineers collected 146 and 14 points.
WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: West Virginia was unable to get their running game going in the first half. Norfolk State comfortably left four men in the box and dared the Mountaineers to run the ball. Once the passing game got going in the second half Vernard Roberts was able to take advantage of increased opportunities, but the first half will give the Mountaineers plenty to work on before facing Maryland next weekend in College Park.
WHAT NORFOLK STATE LOST With a 12-10 halftime lead, Norfolk State had the attention of the nation as one of several possible upsets in the early slate of games. Allowing West Virginia's defense to roll off three straight unanswered touchdowns in ten minutes disinterested the masses and erased any memory of that close first half.
THAT WAS CRAZY. West Virginia's offensive production against the Spartans marked the highest point total since the Mountaineers beat Connecticut 66-21 in 2007. West Virginia totaled 517 yards rushing on the Huskies, led by Pat White, Noel Devine and Steve Slaton in that game. That was Rich Rodriguez's last year at West Virginia, and the team eventually defeated Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The Mountaineers have a long way to go before being able to be compared to that 2007 team, but the second half on Saturday was a start.