MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Following a 20-16 victory that seemed decades out of place, coach Dana Holgorsen credited No. 15 Iowa State for pushing West Virginia to the brink.
“Everything that we thought they were, they were,” he said. “We beat a good football team. They were smart, they played hard, they didn’t make a lot of mistakes, and they fought to the end.”
West Virginia (6-3, 4-2) became bowl-eligible and moved into a three-way tie for third place in the Big 12. With either Oklahoma and TCU guaranteed to lose next week in a matchup of the frontrunners, five teams remain in the chase for the Big 12 championship game.
Following close losses to No. 13 Virginia Tech and No. 8 TCU, and last week’s not-so-close 50-39 setback vs. No. 11 Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers broke through against the Cyclones (6-3, 4-2).
“It’s good to finally win one of these,” Holgorsen said.
Saturday marked their highest-ranked victim since beating No. 4 Baylor in 2014.
West Virginia survived despite playing without three defensive starters: Linebacker Xavier Preston, defensive end Adam Shuler and safety Toyous Avery. In addition, cornerback Mike Daniels was injured midgame.
Crawford cracks 100
Justin Crawford rekindled some of his early-season moves while topping the 100-yard mark for the first time since TCU on Oct. 7. He admitted the key was playing through soreness.
“It’s tough man, and it comes with the game of football,” he said. “I just played hard and tried to play my butt off.”
Crawford gained 102 yards on 25 carries, his most touches since last season’s regular-season finale against Baylor.
Iowa State erased a 17-3 deficit in last month’s upset at Oklahoma and nearly pulled off a similar rally this time. That became Matt Campbell’s silver lining despite the end of a four-game winning streak.
Trailing 20-3 at halftime with his team being outgained 365-112, he kept his calm and focused on making corrections.
“I think the old Matt Campbell probably loses it, but I didn’t because I really trust our kids,” he said. “There’s too much good leadership in our locker room for us to quit or bag it.”
Despite the loss, Iowa State remains in contention for its first league title since 1912.
Notes, figures, etc.
West Virginia’s Justin Crawford matched his season high of 19 carries in the first half as West Virginia committed to the running game. … Replacements Hakeem Bailey (10) and Dylan Tonkery (nine) registered their career-highs in tackles. … Will Grier climbed to No. 7 on the school’s single-season passing yardage list at 3,068. His two passing touchdowns gave him 30 this season, which is No. 4 in program history.
It looks like a misprint, but it’s not: Iowa State has allowed a total of 17 second-half points in six Big 12 games. … Despite the loss, Iowa State remains in contention for a berth in the Big 12 championship game and its first league title since 1912. … Cyclones receiver Allen Lazard (five catches for 49 yards) caught a pass for the 44th consecutive game, extending the nation’s longest active streak. … Iowa State did not fumble Saturday and has yet to lose one all season.