One of the worst rushing defenses in the country had no answer for the West Virginia running back duo of Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell, as the Mountaineers notched their first Big 12 win of the season with a 31-26 victory over Texas Tech in Morgantown.
Smallwood finished with 163 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown; Shell flanked him with 111 yards and a pair of scores on 14 rushes. The West Virginia defense was also outstanding, limiting the nation's fourth-highest scoring offense to just three touchdowns.
How the game was won: The Mountaineers beat up Texas Tech in the trenches. West Virginia rolled up 300 yards on the ground and iced the game late by going the length of the field with a series of running plays to run out the clock. Dana Holgorsen got too creative for his own good at times, as a pair of Skyler Howard passes were picked off, both of which led to Texas Tech field goals on ensuing possessions. But when West Virginia lined up and handed the ball to either Smallwood or Shell between the tackles, something positive for the Mountaineers usually followed.
Stat of the game: On West Virginia's second possession, Shell broke through the line of scrimmage for a 5-yard touchdown, giving the Mountaineers an early 7-0 lead. It was the first time West Virginia had been ahead in a Big 12 game this year. In losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU, the Mountaineers never led once.
What the win means for West Virginia: After going through a gauntlet of a four-game stretch, Holgorsen and the Mountaineers desperately needed this one. Now with a little wind behind their sails, they'll have a chance to finish the season strongly with four very winnable games coming up against Texas, Kansas, Iowa State and Kansas State.
What the loss means for Texas Tech: Since jumping to a 7-0 start two years ago in Kliff Kingsbury's first season, the Red Raiders are 0-17 against Big 12 opponents not named Kansas or Iowa State. Simply put, the Red Raiders are never going to be a major factor in the Big 12 until they field a better run defense -- no matter how explosive and prolific the offense might be.