A few responded with chuckles, while others (who don't regard WV football as highly) asked, "who we were playing?" All joking aside, I think most fans of the Big 12 were anxiously awaiting the match-up between two high powered offenses in both Baylor and Oklahoma State to determine who would claim the driver's seat in the Big 12 title race.
As I watched a Baylor team that absolutely destroyed West Virginia in front of their home crowd in Waco, I saw that same Baylor team struggle on the road to catch passes, score points, protect the ball, and get their defense off the field. Sure, Baylor was missing some key players, but what team doesn't sustain costly injuries throughout the season? As I watched this game unfold it only reinforced the message time and time again that in the world of college football, if you don't execute and come ready to play, any team may beat you. I saw it earlier in the day when a Division 1 powerhouse lost to Georgia Southern in the Swamp.
Does our loss to Kansas still look that bad??...YES!! It still looks terrible!
We played unemotional, lackadaisical football and got our butts handed to us in front of a few thousand fans on our final stop in the Big 12 stadium tour. Baylor was playing a top 10 team in the nation. If they didn't expect a dog fight, then they deserved what they got. If they did expect a dog fight and got beat anyways, then hats off to the team that beat them, because WV and the eight other teams Baylor whooped up on didn't even come within 10 points of hanging with them (and most were much, much worse than that).
Baylor was the hottest team in the league, arguably in the nation, and they got tripped up like so many unbeatens have before. West Virginia has had a season full of blowouts and heartbreaks. Who could have thought we would struggle against William and Mary as bad as we did? We had to suffer through a blow out embarrassment to our border line neighbor, Maryland. We suffered heartbreaks against ranked teams in Oklahoma and Texas Tech. And just when we thought we had turned the corner, we lost to Texas, in Morgantown, in a night game, in overtime.
Our guys needed a confidence booster. Our fans needed an easy week to watch Holgorsen's offense release a season full of frustration in an offensive explosion. We needed a game where our overall talent would take over and everything would click. That game was supposed to be Kansas...They kicked our ass.
Perhaps this team just isn't that good. Maybe they can't compete in the Big 12 week in and week out. This is the 2nd year in a row that our football team has been abysmal in the 2nd half of the season. Then the Baylor game played out on Saturday night and the optimist in me found a "silver lining" in a season filled with disappointment.
The same team that was beating up on the #4 team in the nation. The same team that took the Big 12 front runner to the woodshed. The same team that was stuffing Baylor's dynamic receivers at the line, establishing the more physical brand of football and taking advantage of costly turnovers from the Bears..was the same team that West Virginia beat in late September. The team, as we all know, is the Oklahoma State Cowboys and currently the only blemish on their season is from the Mountaineers.
I'm not going to argue that this West Virginia team is one of the better teams in the Big 12 just because of one big win. I'm calling it a Silver Lining, not a moronic statement. A Silver Lining- A hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty.
Thousands of fans are going to look at Oklahoma State's record and see who that one blemish was from. Even Oklahoma State fans are going to be scratching their head and wonder how they lost to the 4-7 Mountaineers. We already know why.. if we play the type of football these young men are capable of we can beat anyone in the Big 12. I hope the West Virginia players and staff gained something positive from that Baylor vs.OK State match-up as well. I found my Silver lining on Saturday night. It doesn't salvage the season, but it helps, if only a little.
Am I going to route like crazy for Oklahoma State to beat OU and win their bowl game so we are their only loss of the season? I'm honestly not too concerned about it. There is only one game left I have massive interest in. I concluded over the bye week, ironically, when West Virginia neither won, lost nor tied that they are capable of beating anyone in the Big 12 this year. .and come Saturday they get their shot against Iowa State. Seeing as the Riot Bowl IS the only bowl these 2 teams will be playing in I hope West Virginia lays everything they have on that field, for the Seniors, for the fans and for themselves. If not... it's back to the drawing board for this optimistic fan.