The air-raid siren went off early and often in Morgantown Saturday as the West Virginia Mountaineers stormed by the Marshall Thundering Herd, 69-35, thanks to a mammoth performance by quarterback Geno Smith, who had five combined touchdowns.
Smith misfired on just four passes in 36 attempts, threw for four scores and ran for another, proving he's every bit the dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate they're calling him in Morgantown. He was helped by running back Shawn Alston, who ran 16 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns as well.
Marshall kept it close early — they were down just 13-7 in the beginning of the second quarter — but once Smith found his rhythm, it was over. He found Stedman Bailey for a beautiful touchdown to open the scoring, and was precise and efficient the rest of the way. Bailey led all receivers with nine receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Tavon Austin showcased his all-around athleticism as well, running for 67 yards, piling up 10 receptions for 53 yards and had 54 combined return yards.
Box Score Hero: Geno Smith was battling Tavon Austin for this after the first half, but ran away with it in the second half. He finished with a bananas line: 32-36, 323 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, eight rushes, 64 yards and a touchdown.
Rankings Ramifications: West Virginia was the No. 11 team in the AP poll entering the season, and with the resounding win, there's no way they lose a spot. In fact, it's likely they gain at least one slot after the primetime game between No. 8 Michigan and No. 2 Alabama Saturday night, with the loser likely slipping out of the top 10.
But Did They Cover?: West Virginia was favored by 27 points on most of the major services, but no spread is safe when Dana Holgorsen is the coach, and the blowout ensured that Saturday.
Next Week's Schedule: West Virginia will host FCS school James Madison Sept. 15, after a week off. Marshall will be at home against Western Carolina on Sept. 8.