Seems like we do it every year- overlook an unranked team and suffer an embarrassing defeat.
In 2011, it was Syarcuse and Louisville. In 2010, UConn and Syracuse (again). Auburn and USF struck in 2009; ECU, Colorado, Cincinnati, and Pitt in 2008. Pitt in 2007. USF in 2006. Not since 2005 did we go a full season without losing to an unranked team. I guess we got fooled into believing it wouldn’t happen again this year. We were wrong.
This was looking like a story book year for the Mountaineers. We entered one of the best football conferences in the country. We had the undisputed top Heisman candidate and undisputed best offense in the country. We had come home from Austin with one of the biggest victories in school history and a top 5 ranking. We didn’t have a great defense, but no one could stop our offense, so what did it matter? A top 5 matchup against Kansas State was just around the corner- one of the biggest matchups in all of college football this season. All we had to do was beat an unranked Texas Tech team on the road…
We all got brought back to reality on Saturday in Lubbock. Everyone knew it was a trap game. I said as much in my bold prediction (before carelessly dismissing the thought). Holgorsen knew it. The coaches, players, everyone. But they still fell victim to it. It was the textbook definition of a trap game:
- WVU was coming off of two historic, very emotional wins
- WVU was looking forward to a top 5 team coming to Morgantown the following week
- WVU was getting too much praise from the rest of the country- egos were swelling
- Geno had a lot of pressure on him- everyone expected him to be perfect on every pass, and he expected it of himself
- Texas Tech had just gotten stomped by Oklahoma and had something to prove
- Resident ESPN Clown Lee Corso even gave us the kiss of death and picked us to win
People like to say trap games are a myth, but evidence says that they are not. How else do you explain the sudden ineptness of the WVU offense? The wind? Please. Texas Tech’s QB played in the same wind and didn’t have any problems. We looked like a team that thought we could show up, put in a half effort, and walk out with a win. Texas Tech knocked some sense into us.
A poor showing, to be sure, but it hardly erases our 5 victories. It did not end our season.
So, where do we stand now?
The offense has had one bad game, one so-so game (Maryland), and 4 spectacular games. Geno Smith has looked like the best QB in the country in every game except one. There is no reason to believe that the offensive performance against Texas Tech was anything more than an anamoly. It’s impossible for any team to keep up that pace every game. We’ve had our off week. Now it’s back to the air raid.
The defense, on the other hand, is terrible and it has to get better. They showed some glimmers of hope against Texas but looked worse against Texas Tech. I would anticipate coaching changes, in season possibly, if the defense does not improve. We can outscore a lot of teams, but you can’t give up 600 yards and 40+ points every week. We just witnessed what happens when the defense does that and the offense has an off game. It’s not pretty.
Is there hope?
Yes! Fear not, as Mountaineers never go into a corner and feel sorry for themselves. We come out and fight back hard. Since 2005, we have lost 18 regular season games. Only twice did we lose 2 in a row. 89% of the time we have bounced back from a loss with a win. And not since 2001, when we went 3-8, did we follow up a loss with a loss at home. History predicts a win from the Mountaineers this weekend.
There is still much to play for this season. The Big 12 title race is wide open. There is a strong possibility that the Big 12 will get 2 BCS bids and the third place team will goto the Cotton Bowl, which is almost as good as any BCS game. There’s even still an outside chance at the national championship game for the gold and blue, despite the loss (remember 2007?). We have two games left against Top 10 teams- plenty of opportunities to regain confidence and respect and move back up into the top 10 and top 5.
This weekend against Kansas State…
One thing keeps coming to me when thinking about the Kansas State game: Leave No Doubt Tonight. Best pre-game speech ever. I’d have all the boys watch it before the game.
We have always played our best in adverse conditions. Certainly, playing at night in Morgantown is a huge advantage for us, but everyone in the country is down on us now. We’ve lost our top 5 ranking and the inside track to the national championship. Many commentators wonder aloud whether we are good enough to win even a few more games. The team itself has to feel like they have something to prove. They’ve been brought back down to Earth. Now that they’ve been reminded of what happens when you don’t show up with your A game, expect the Mountaineers to bring it every game for the rest of the season.