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West Virginia holds off Kansas’ upset bid in Lawrence, final score 56-34

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The Mountaineers had fans wringing their hands, but kept composure and put the game away when it counted.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

That was a wild one, right folks?!

The West Virginia Mountaineers are now 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Big 12 Conference, after beating the Kansas Jayhawks 56-34 in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Mountaineers opened up an early 28-3 lead in the second quarter, behind the duo of Justin Crawford and Kennedy McKoy. Kansas’ Khalil Herbert, who had an outstanding day, would get the Jayhawks a little closer before Peyton Bender threw a pick six to Mike Daniels, allowing West Virginia to take a 35-13 lead into the half.

Kansas came into the third quarter firing on all cylinders, while the Mountaineers were seemingly still having nap time in the locker room. The Jayhawks pulled the game within one score as the third quarter came to a close, causing social media and our mentions to implode with people ready to write the game off as a loss - I’ll get to that in a minute. West Virginia woke back up in the fourth, and Will Grier put the game away with a seven yard pass to David Sills V and two rushing touchdowns of his own.

Grier finished the day 25-of-39 passing for 347 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. West Virginia’s two-headed rushing monster has reared its head again this season, as Justin Crawford and Kennedy McKoy both eclipsed the 100 yard mark on the day. Crawford finished with 125 yards and one touchdown on 18 attempts, and McKoy added 105 yards and two scores on 12 carries. David Sills lead all receivers with 130 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions. Gary Jennings and Marcus Simms racked up 75 yards and 68 yards, respectively.

Now, let’s take a look at this game from an objective point of view. Yes, the Mountaineers let Kansas get entirely too close in the third quarter, but the game was never really in doubt - despite what everyone on social media seemed to think. Kansas came into this game averaging 32 points per game, which is probably the best they’ve been offensively in years. They’ve managed to do this by throwing the ball well, and that is what West Virginia most likely game-planned for. But as we saw, the Jayhawks decided to rely on the run a little more than they have thus far this season. Khalil Herbert had an all-time great game today, running for 291 yards and two scores on 36 attempts. Kansas ran the ball 50 times today, something they’ve not even come close to doing this season. When you do something your opponent doesn’t gameplan for, you’re going to have some form of success.

I’m not saying I don’t have any sliver of concern about how our run defense performed today, but it’s not the end of the world, folks. We have a bye week next week. It’s time to get healthy, work on what can be improved and get focused because we have an eight game stretch looming on the other side.

And before I close this out, I’ll leave you with this lukewarm take. The Kansas Jayhawks are going to upset a few teams in the Big 12 this season. Doug Meacham is a good offensive coordinator, Peyton Bender is a decent quarterback and Khalil Herbert is a breakout star waiting to happen. Kansas finishes 7th in the conference this season. Sorry Baylor, Iowa State and maybe that team that Kansas beat last season.