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Don’t sweat WVU's slight poll dip

MORGANTOWN - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind while trying to make sense of West Virginia winning by double figures over a BCS-conference opponent, seeing a team ranked above it lose and then dropping a spot in the Associated Press poll:

  • OK, so it's not really that much of a mystery. Don't get worked up about no respect and all that.
  • The team that lost, then-No. 6 Oklahoma, was replaced by the team that beat the Sooners in Norman, Kansas State, which jumped all the way from No. 15 to No. 7. Beyond that, Stanford and WVU traded places - the Cardinal up from ninth to eighth - despite not playing. Still, Stanford was more impressive beating preseason No. 1 Southern Cal last week than West Virginia was in beating Maryland this, so it's no big deal.

    Keep winning and it will all work out.

    The team that really got messed up in all of this was actually Kansas State. As it was pointed out to Bill Snyder on Monday, his K-State team thrives on being the underdog. Well, now the Wildcats are the highest-ranked Big 12 team in the media poll, although West Virginia is still ranked higher (7th to 8th) in the coaches' poll.

    So much for the underdog role.

    "Probably I have to get back on the coaches' poll,'' Snyder laughed, "so I can get our team down in the rankings some.''

  • Darwin Cook doesn't want to hear it anymore. Not from Doug Rigg and not from anyone else.
  • Sure, Cook got all the good press after West Virginia's Orange Bowl win over Clemson, even though it wouldn't have been possible without Rigg. It was Rigg who stripped Clemson's Andre Ellington of the ball on the goal line and Cook who picked up the loose ball and ran 98 yards for a game-changing touchdown.

    On Saturday, in a 31-21 win over Maryland, the roles were reversed.

    Cook is the one who sacked Maryland quarterback Perry Hills as Hills was giving a play-action fake to his tailback and then starting to roll out. Cook stripped the ball from Hills and Rigg picked it up and ran 51 yards for a touchdown.

    "If anyone was going to pick it up and run with it, I'm glad it was him,'' Cook said. "I was tired of hearing his mouth.

    "Shoot, he was mad about it, his girlfriend was mad at me about it. I took all his glory. She should be happy now.''

  • West Virginia plays Baylor Saturday in its first Big 12 game ever, and that's another opportunity for an opposing coach to heap praises on Geno Smith.
  • Baylor's Art Briles doesn't disappoint.

    "He's just phenomenal,'' Briles said Monday. "The guy's been playing really strongly the last couple of years. He's why they're where they're at No. 7 in America. He's a great leader, a great football player and seems really in control of what's going on on the football field, without question.''

    Briles, though, can opine on something else regarding Smith, which is the Heisman Trophy race. Briles coached last year's winner, Robert Griffin III.

    So, any thoughts on how to handle all of that pressure and attention?

    "I guess you'd have to ask Robert about that,'' Briles said. "But just being around it a little bit, it's constant. It's kind of like in a golf game. You make one bad shot and then all of a sudden everybody's talking about that one bad shot instead of those 68 that you hit right. That's kind of what happens when you get in this hunt. You can be in it one day and then two weeks later [it's different].

    "That kind of happened to Robert last year. We started out with him being very hot and then hit a little lull in the middle of the season and then finished up strong and pulled it out at the end.''

    Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

     


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