The Mountaineers, down 48-34 with 11 minutes to play, went for it on fourth-and-6 at their own 39. Smith's attempt at a short lob pass to tailback Andrew Buie while the protection was breaking down was batted by a defensive lineman and fell incomplete. OSU scored two plays later to put the game away.
In all, the Mountaineers converted four of the seven fourth downs against the Cowboys, including three of four before that first failed attempt in the fourth quarter. One of them led to a touchdown, another kept a long drive alive and the only failed attempt was when Shawne Alston gained nothing on a fourth-and-goal at the 2 at the end of that same 16-play drive.
And, of course, the other success came under fairly bizarre circumstances. Smith had to leave the game when his helmet came off and Paul Millard replaced him for a fourth-and-13 play at the OSU 37. With the Cowboys perhaps not seriously considering that Millard would throw despite the down and distance, he sat in the pocket forever and eventually hit Ryan Nehlen in the end zone for a touchdown.
"That was on the  and I didn't feel good about the field goal because of the wind. I didn't feel good about a punt because you have a chance of only gaining 15 yards,'' Holgorsen said. "So we took a chance and it worked out. Then a couple of the goal line ones, we had third-and-short, fourth-and-short. We've got to be able to get it. If we are going to be successful offensively, we have to be able to get those.''
Holgorsen was also asked if perhaps the penchant for going for it on fourth down might have anything to do with a lack of confidence in his team's defense - punt the ball and he's almost conceding another score.
He said no, that wasn't a consideration.
"It's our job offensively to score,'' Holgorsen said. "It's our job to keep going forward.''
If that means gambling on fourth down, so be it. When WVU's offense has been at its best, those gambles were working. But he insists it isn't something he wants to do on a regular basis.
"I don't want to get into a habit of going for it on fourth down five to seven times a game. I do not want to,'' Holgorsen said. "And if you look back at the games, there's been a couple of times this year that we've done that, but over the course of the 20-some games since I have been here, that hasn't been the norm. And I don't expect it to be. But it's all the situations. The situations dictate that.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.