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BG-West Virginia: When Everything Goes Awry

Think I'm finally ready to talk about this. I mean, beyond the first five minutes of the game.

What an inauspiciously promising start. Boo Boo Gates fumbled the opening kickoff (No Boo Boo!) and the defense kept 'em to a field goal. Then Gates atoned with a 77-yard kickoff return (Hey Boo Boo!), and a touchdown was formed one play later. A three-and-out was forced and then BG kicked a field goal. They should have had another touchdown on a WR throwback to Alex Bayer but either he dropped it or the defender had impeccable timing on the hit. I'm inclined to blame the weather. It's easiest.

Everything after that, however, was despicable. And not just allowing 291 yards to freshman Dustin Garrison, who had 65 yards on the year.

For four games I watched this team, even if they lost, rally with the offense and play good defense. Neither was present after the 10-3 score. That three-and-out was WV's only punt of the afternoon. They did have a 4th and 1 stop — of course that was with two-and-a-half minutes left in the match, and Garrison was already done for the game. Everything else in-between: seven touchdowns, one field goal, 596 yards of offense. And defensively in that span they caused four turnovers. WV hadn't intercepted a pass all season. They had three in this game.

Suddenly the team resembled those of recent years: 2010, 2008, 2007. It was an offense that crumpled against the slightest sign of adversity. The defense, for eight straight drives, resembled movie ushers.

Yes, they had Anthon Samuel out because of injury, but Jamel Martin's numbers were actually pretty decent. Yes, they couldn't play with Eugene Cooper or Jovan Leacock because they had yet to complete their NCAA certification. (Sidebar: the heck?) And yes, their third-down defense remains ranked nationally in the top 10, but barely.

Like it normally goes with these types of games, the loss isn't the painful portion: it's how and by what score. In all the previews I was thinking BG would lose by, perhaps, 17 points. The Vegas spread was 20. To have BG play like they did those first five minutes and then allow 52 straight points is not something that even a middle-of-the-road MAC team should permit. But such can be the fate of wandering into hilly terrain and not being prepared

But the good news is that it's over, and it doesn't count for much except that's one more game they need to win for bowl eligibility. They're three away from that. And as long as nobody else saw that and just runs on 'em 40 times a game with a locomotive ... they should be safe.