Dale Sparks/WVUSports.com

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard outruns Texas Tech linebacker Malik Jenkins to the pylon on an 8-yard second-quarter touchdown.


LUBBOCK, Texas — Skyler Howard looked more like a record-smashing quarterback than did Patrick Mahomes and No. 20 West Virginia’s defense made a bold statement in crushing Texas Tech 48-17.

Howard threw for 318 yards, ran for 89 more and accounted for three scores as the Mountaineers (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) dominated in their first road test to become contenders in the conference race.

“The people that will bring our name into that conversation are the same ones that left it out of the conversation before, so we don’t care about that,” Howard said.

Rushel Shell ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns while Kennedy McKoy gained 99 on just four carries as West Virginia outgained Texas Tech 650-379.

Mahomes threw for 305 yards but suffered four sacks and left early in the fourth quarter, unable to get the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense rolling. Nic Shimonek’s touchdown pass in relief wasn’t nearly enough to extend the Red Raiders’ NCAA-record streak of nine home games scoring at least 50 points.

“I said a lot of prayers this morning on the way here and they were answered,” said Mountaineers defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. “We showed our players (Tech’s) offensive numbers and said, ‘What are we going to do about it?’”

Texas Tech (3-3, 1-2) entered Saturday averaging 649 yards per game only to see its homecoming crowd empty from the stadium during the third quarter.

“That’s as bad as I’ve ever seen Texas Tech play,” said Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury. “I’d like to apologize to the fans, students and alumni.”

Daikiel Shorts had 100 yards receiving in the first half, including a 53-yarder that set up West Virginia’s first score — a 10-yard run by Justin Crawford.

Crawford also scored on a 5-yard screen pass and Howard raced in with an 8-yard keeper as West Virginia built a 24-7 halftime cushion.

Mahomes threw a 44-yard touchdown to Jonathan Giles on third-and-29 in the first quarter but Texas Tech’s offense otherwise endured one of its shakiest starts in Kingsbury’s four-year tenure.

One red-zone opportunity saw Justin Stockton’s bobbled pass become the first career interception for West Virginia senior linebacker Sean Walters. A fourth-and-inches at the West Virginia 24-yard line unraveled on a snap infraction followed by an incompletion.

“They did bring it to us and we didn’t respond well,” Mahomes said. “Pretty much negative in every way possible. We didn’t run the ball well. We didn’t protect well. I played, probably, the worst game I ever played.”

Howard’s 1-yard plunge capped an 83-yard drive in the third quarter before Shell’s 14-yard touchdown made it 41-10. When the senior running back tacked on a 3-yard score to cement the blowout, he eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time in eight games dating back to last November’s win at Kansas.

“We can’t get too big-headed,” Shell said, “but I feel like something special is happening.”

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