This is not how it was supposed to happen. Milan Puskar Stadium was rocking. The defense was pounding and the offense was doing just enough. The Mountaineers had just scored twice in 30 seconds to take a 27-14 lead and everything seemed on-script for WVU to pound their second top 10 team in 4 games and vault themselves into the upper-tier of the conference title conversation, not to mention to the fringe of College Football Playoff consideration.
Then it all fell apart as WVU gave up their 3rd second-half double-digit lead over TCU in as many years and coughed up the whole damn thing as the Horned Frog's Jaden Oberkrom knocked his 37 yard kick through the uprights as time expired.
It was a loss that felt a lot more like 2013 than 2014 with the turnovers and curious coaching decisions. I'm doing my best to remember that the staff that made some of the calls that had us all throwing our beer bottles is the same staff that engineered the huge turnaround from last year's 4-8 that got us here to begin with. I don't know why Dana Holgorsen elected to go into the wind during the 4th quarter after losing the coin toss anymore than I know why he kept stubbornly calling run plays when TCU was clearly stacking the box and ready to stop it.
The WVU offense didn't just turn the ball over 5 times, they turned the ball over 5 times in their own territory. That they were anywhere near beating the 7th-ranked team in America after playing so horribly speaks to the effort but forth by the defense, which didn't just hold the TCU Horned Frogs to 2 touchdowns on all those opportunities, but even got on the scoreboard themselves with Terrell Chestnut's 35 yard scoop and score which was WVU's first recovered fumble of the year.
On the other side WVU was effective at times and quite horrible at others. Clint Trickett had by far his worst outing of the season as he was 15 for 26 for a scant 162 yards, only 28 of which were to the best receiver in the country Kevin White who used to be the front-runner for the Biletnikoff Award. TCU's rush got to Trickett early and often. He was clearly rattled and outside of the first drive when he dropped a beautiful pass into the hands of Mario Alford for a 23 yard score never settled in.
His coach noticed, too and late in the game refused to put the game in the hands of his signal caller, calling run plays on 3rd and long throughout a 4th quarter that saw the WVU offense go 3 and out in all 3 of their possessions. For Mountaineer fans who've spent the entire year watching Trickett make swiss cheese of opposing defenses it was maddening.
Dreamius Smith shone in spot duty once again, carrying 12 times for 70 yards including nearly all the yardage on a 3rd quarter drive that he punctuated with a 5 yard touchdown which would be the final time the Mountaineer offense found the TCU end zone.
It was an awful way to lose an enormously important game that would have opened so many doors for this WVU team. As folks discuss TCU you'll hear them say things like "yeah championship teams just find a way to win those games." That's complete garbage and you should strangle anyone that says it. TCU didn't "find a way to win" that game anymore than I found that $5 someone dropped on the ground back in February. I didn't grind out 5 bucks or will myself to that Abe Lincoln. Some poor dumbass dropped it and I picked it up. He's a dumbass and I was lucky.
That's TCU. Lucky to be getting out of Morgantown alive.
We'll all spend the next few days grumbling about the countless ways that WVU handed this game to the Horned Frogs and as we watch upsets happen around the country we'll spend the next month wondering "what if?" But we are fans and we have that luxury. We can wonder about things and grumble because we don't have a job to do and we don't have 4 more games to prepare for and we don't have bowl position hanging on our ability to focus and put this gut-punch-nut-kick-eyeball-gouge of a cluster(explicative) loss behind us.