WVU played James Madison last Saturday and the Dukes gave the Mountaineers rushing attack a fight. But the real contest was between Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie.
Alston was the starter and deservedly so. But Buie had every intention and possibly the talent to take it away. Alston won round one against Marshall, but a check of the numbers shows Buie won round two
Alston was a bull and ran over, around and through Marshall defenders for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Then he only gained 62 yards in 14 carries with one touchdown. Alston was also stopped on fourth and one and tackled for a safety.
Buie had his moments against Marshall with 80 yards on only six carries with a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 31 yards. But Buie missed a handoff that would have given him an additional 23 yards and another touchdown.
Then against JMU, Buie gained 31 yards on seven carries with no touchdowns. He also gained 90 yards on five pass receptions. Buie had five pancake blocks and protected Smith all day.
Alston clearly won round one of this fight that could go 13 rounds. Buie won round two.
Then came what should have been round three against Maryland and the competition was effectively postponed. Buie had only 33 yards on 14 carries. He added 3 receptions for 45 yards and did not score.
Alston's bruised thigh kept him out of the game except for two plays and he had no carries or catches. It wouldn't have mattered if he had carried the ball. He was going nowhere.
Maryland obviously watched the JMU tape, and with better athletes dominated the WVU offensive line. Even Tavon couldn't reach the line of scrimmage on a handoff. Barry Sanders couldn't have run the ball.
The fact that WVU beat Maryland by 10 is a testament to Smith and Austin. Hopefully this year's Maryland was the equivalent of last year's Syracuse game. Except this year they are good enough to win in spite of poor line play.
Baylor's defense is no Maryland. If Alston is healthy we will have round three on Saturday.
Let's take a closer look at both of the contenders: