West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey (3) catches a 33-yard touchdown beyond Oklahoma’s Aaron Colvin during the second quarter. Bailey made 13 catches for 205 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 20 scores this season. (Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE)
The superlatives from West Virginia’s 50-49 loss to BCS No. 12-ranked Oklahoma:
Worst trend-buster: West Virginia had gone 172-0 when scoring 40 points … until Saturday night’s loss.
Best reason to line up Tavon Austin in the backfield: The slot receiver had become a targeted man by secondaries, so WVU turned him into tailback this week. The astonishing result — 344 yards rushing on 21 carries.
Worst exaggeration: Dana Holgorsen reasoning that the shift of Austin to running back “should have been done four years ago.” Four years ago, mind you, Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and WVU had 1,400-yard rusher Noel Devine at tailback.
Best hospitality (home team): The Pride of West Virginia marching band playing “Oklahoma” at halftime.
Best hospitality (visiting team): The Sooners led 38-36 when they committed two personal fouls on Austin’s 54-yard run: a hands-to-the-face call on defensive back Lamar Harris and a sideline interference flag to boot. As a result of Oklahoma’s gift penalties, WVU moved from its own 15 to the Oklahoma 8.
Worst special-teams glitch: Mountaineers senior Tyler Bitancurt had converted 46 consecutive extra points until missing late in the third quarter — an error that looked paramount given the final score.
Worst first-half throws: Geno Smith missed Ryan Nehlen on a slant route that was intercepted by Aaron Colvin, and then threw late on an out route to Stedman Bailey that was tipped and picked by Javon Harris.
Best second-half throws: Smith threw a gorgeous 7-yard fade route to Bailey for a fourth-quarter TD before lofting an even prettier 40-yard score to Bailey off a play-action fake.
Worst case of overaggression: WVU’s defense committed two offside penalties on the game’s first drive. The most crucial saw Kyle Rose being flagged on third-and-4 at the WVU 16, nixing an incompletion that likely would have led to a Sooners’ field-goal try.
Best pop: Mountaineers free safety Karl Joseph belted OU reciever Jalen Saunders for no gain after a first-quarter catch.
Best revenge: Saunders caught an innocent-looking underneath pass for what should have been a 5-yard gain, but then slipped between WVU linebackers Terence Garvin and Isaiah Bruce on what became a 76-yard touchdown.
Worst spot: Late in the first quarter, the booth official opted to leave the ball at the Oklahoma 2-yard line despite replays showing Stedman Bailey extended the ball almost to the 1 before his foot slid out of bounds. With the first-down marker at the 1, WVU might still have been inches short, but it would have given Dana Holgorsen more umph to go for it on fourth down. Instead, Tyler Bitancurt came on kicked a 19-yard field goal.
Best play on wounded knee: Mountaineers cornerback Brodrick Jenkins, in his first positive stint since October’s knee surgery, made his first interception of the season while covering OU’s Kenny Stills on a vertical route in the fourth quarter.
Worst game to miss: About 10,000 tickets went unsold Saturday, partly due to students heading home for the Thanksgiving break and to fans’ discontentment about WVU’s four-game losing streak. Excusable absences on both counts, but wow, what a second half those no-shows missed.
Follow on Twitter @AllanTaylorWVU Email comments to email@example.com