2003…That was the last time the WVU Mountaineers were victorious over a top five-ranked team during a regular season. The unranked Mountaineers played Virginia Tech at home in game 7, winning 28-7. Since then, they have played many and fell short to top five teams such as Miami, LSU, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Alabama.
In 2007, after a crushing season finale 13-9 loss to Pitt in the 100th Backyard Brawl, the Mountaineers were sent packin’ to Arizona to play the #3 Oklahoma University Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl. The surprising 48-28 win over the Sooners was the last time the Mountaineers beat a top five team in an extended season.
With Oklahoma ranked #4 coming into this past weekend, the Mountaineers looked to right that ship and come out on top. As the underdogs, WVU had put up a great fight in the first half but were bull rushed in the 2nd half falling short to the Sooners 44-33.
Now let’s look at some “what if’s”: Beating the Sooners would have propelled WVU up in the rankings and they would still be in the conversation for first ever College Football Playoff. Winning the game this past weekend would most likely have meant, that the game against #7 Baylor on October 18th would decide the Big 12 “One True Champion,” and would eventually lead to The Playoff. All this assuming, the Mountaineers would have won out against OU and Baylor. Winning that game would have also secured Dana Holgorsen’s future in Morgantown, and the Mountaineer Nation may have finally been in his corner.
Enough with the “what if’s”. WVU lost, so let’s focus on the remainder of the 2014 season and the positive take-a-way’s from this past weekend loss. If, and that is a big “if,” WVU continues to play the way they have in these first 4 games, they should end with a 9-3 season. The Mountaineers 3rd possible loss would be to a Top 10 Baylor team. Let’s face it, many of the so-called experts were calling for a 1-3 September for WVU. Also, these “experts” had no illusions of the Mounties hanging in against ‘Bama or OU. Now, what Gold and Blue loving Mountaineer fan would not be happy with 9-3?
The only way the Mountaineer will be able to successfully pull off the 9-3 season is if: the running game continues to get better, special teams play every single down, and they don’t take plays off. Some of WVU’s key players need to work on consistency, including Mario Alford’s hands, and Rushel Shell limiting the fumbles and holding onto the ball.
The Kansas Jayhawks, yes, I said the Kansas Jayhawks have become the most pivotal opponent of the season. This “Gold Rush” game will show whether or not the Mountaineers learned from their losses, corrected the special team blunders, regrouped and healed during their bye-week. But, most importantly the game will show if WVU can retaliate from an embarrassing defeat by the Jayhawks last season. A convincing win from Holgo’s boys will go a long way in helping secure one of the greatest turn-around’s in WVU Football history.