at West Virginia 55 … Bowling Green 10
Posted Oct 1, 2011

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Bowling Green at West Virginia

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 5 - BGSU at West Virginia

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Oct. 1 at West Virginia 55 … Bowling Green 10
CFN Analysis: Who said the Mountaineers couldn't run the ball? After spending the first part of the season bombing away, Dustin Garrison took over against Bowling Green with 291 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. This was Dana Holgorsen showing the Big East that his offense can blast off 360 rushing yards on occasion, and now teams will have to prepare for everything. Geno Smith did his part with 238 passing yards and three scores in a complete offensive effort. The defense still can't generate any semblance of a pass rush, but that's nitpicking. Finally, the Mountaineers jumped all over a team from the start, and as long as the offense is keeping the turnovers to a minimum, there won't be any problems over the next several weeks starting with a home date against UConn up next.

It's not like the defense has been a rock so far, but it's been good enough to get by on the way to a 3-1 start. West Virginia's attack was coming out smoking after the LSU game, and the Falcons just so happened to be the team that caught the wrath. Even so, they're supposed to have the offense to keep up the pace with just about anyone, but instead Matt Schilz couldn't find anything deep finishing with just 114 yards and a touchdown with three picks. Turnovers have been a problem, and giving it away five times against a team as good as WVU is deadly. The O has to be more prepared for a shootout with a trip to Western Michigan up next.

(AP) MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Freshman Dustin Garrison rushed for 291 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 22 West Virginia to a 55-10 win over Bowling Green on Saturday.

West Virginia's Geno Smith continued his solid season by throwing for three scores. But for the first time, the Mountaineers (4-1) found balance in their offense. No one saw this coming. West Virginia entered the game as one of the worst rushing teams in the FBS with 306 total yards. The Mountaineers compiled 360 yards on the ground Saturday. West Virginia held the Mid-American Conference's highest-scoring offense to 217 total yards. The Falcons (3-2) entered the game averaging 38.5 points.

Bowling Green's Matt Schilz came to Morgantown tied for the FBS lead with 14 touchdown passes. He threw for an early score but lost a fumble and was intercepted three times, twice by Keith Tandy. Schilz finished 13 of 25 for 114 yards.

He didn't have much help available. Bowling Green's leading rusher, Anthon Samuel, missed the game with an injured ankle, while Eugene Cooper, the team's leading receiver, sat out with an unspecified NCAA clearinghouse issue. The Mountaineers showed no signs of coasting between last week's draining home loss to LSU and the upcoming Big East opener with Connecticut. West Virginia's 643 total yards were the most in four years and the highest ever at its 31-year-old stadium.

Garrison has emerged from a group of young running backs that had struggled to gain a foothold under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen. Garrison got his first start against LSU a week ago due to an injury to Andrew Buie and entered Saturday's game with 65 yards on 13 carries.

With the offensive line opening huge holes that had been lacking in previous games, Garrison had 233 yards by halftime and set a freshman single-game school record. He scored on runs of 19 and 8 yards in a steady rain. His 291 yards tied for the second-highest total in school history.

West Virginia overcame two early miscues on special teams by scoring on five consecutive first-half drives and seven straight spanning halftime.

Garrison fumbled the ball inside the Bowling Green 10 late in the second quarter but West Virginia lineman Tyler Rader recovered. Smith found Brad Starks in the end zone on the next play for a 38-10 halftime lead.

Smith completed 18 of 30 passes for 238 yards. His other scoring tosses were 33 yards to Ivan McCartney and 15 yards to Ryan Nehlen. It was the first career touchdown catch for the grandson of WVU Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen.

Smith was replaced by backup Paul Millard on West Virginia's first series of the fourth quarter.

West Virginia's special teams were awful against and the problems continued early against Bowling Green.

The Falcons' Jerry Gates fumbled away the opening kickoff that led to a West Virginia field goal, but he returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards to setting up Schilz's 18-yard scoring toss to Ray Hutson.

Cory Smith's 14-yard punt on West Virginia's next possession gave the Falcons the ball at the 50. Hutson took a reverse handoff and floated a pass toward a wide open Alex Bayer, but Tandy got there just in time to break it up in the end zone. The Falcons settled for a field goal and a 10-3 lead and didn't score again.

Bowling Green (3-1) at West Virginia (3-1) Oct. 1, 3:30, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … West Virginia's biggest hurdle for this week's homecoming is to remain focused on the task on hand. The Mountaineers will be coming down from the emotional high of playing LSU in a marquee primetime event on national television. After failing in their attempt to knock off the top-ranked Tigers, 47-21, they'll turn their attention back to more attainable goals, such as winning the Big East Conference. The ‘eers have one last tune-up before league play starts on Oct. 8. The mindset of the two combatants in Morgantown couldn't be more different.

West Virginia simply wants to take care of business before moving on to bigger things. Bowling Green, though, sees this trip east as an opportunity to corral a defining victory for the program. The Falcons delivered a solid September, bouncing back from a crushing loss to Wyoming to beat East Division rival Miami U. on the road. It was a turning point game for Dave Clawson's young squad, which won just twice in 2010, and had struggled mightily versus the RedHawks over the past decade.

Why Bowling Green Might Win: The Falcons might be catching the Mountaineers at a most opportune time. They're nestled on the schedule between last week's emotionally-charged visit from LSU and next week's Big East opener with Connecticut. No MAC offense is playing better right now than Bowling Green's, which is averaging 468 yards and 38 points a game. Best of all, they'll be able to hit West Virginia with balance.

Sophomore QB Matt Schilz has already matched last season's 14 touchdown passes, getting ample support from star senior receivers Kamar Jorden and Eugene Cooper. And for a change, the Falcons are running the ball as well. Rookie Anthon Samuel has been a revelation for Clawson, running for more than 100 yards in three of the first four games.

Why West Virginia Might Win: While the Mountaineers took it on the chin Saturday night, it also experienced a turning point on offense. Head coach Dana Holgorsen's attack has begun to click, and now ranks third nationally in passing. QB Geno Smith burned the Tigers for 463 yards, while deepening his connection with receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The speed and tempo of this system will cause fits for a Bowling Green defense that'll be undersized and a step too slow. The Falcons have also had a difficult time protecting the pocket, which might be just what DE Bruce Irvin and the sack-deprived West Virginia D needs to get kick-started.

What To Watch Out For: At some point, opposing defenses will get wise to what West Virginia is doing on offense and drop multiple players back into coverage. The Mountaineers set a school record with 65 passing attempts last week, hardly an ideal blueprint for long-term success. They've got to use this week to get something going on the ground after generating just 76 yards a game in September. True freshman Vernard Roberts has done little as the starter, opening the door for fellow rookie Dustin Garrison to command a larger role last weekend and possibly going forward.

What Will Happen: This is a tricky game for West Virginia that'll test the new staff's ability to motivate its players. The Mountaineers could be a little sluggish in the first 15 minutes as it shakes off the hangover from a week ago. It won't take much longer, though, to get cranking on offense. Smith will outduel a harassed Schilz in the battle of live-armed quarterbacks, getting the time he needs to add a couple more touchdown passes to this year's total.

CFN Prediction: West Virginia 41 … Bowling Green 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: West Virginia -20.5   O/U: 60.5

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