WVU must win last two for bowl

Ten games into the 2013 season and West Virginia University’s football team must win its final two regular season games against Kansas and Iowa State to go to its 12th consecutive bowl.

Not exactly what Mountaineer fans envisioned when their favorite team jumped off of the sinking ship known as the Big East and into a blazing fire called the Big 12.

Making the whole situation even more unbearable for most fans is that there is a lot of blame to go around for a program that ended the 2011 season with a crushing defeat of Clemson in the Orange Bowl and then proceeded to win its first five contests in 2012, including a 48-45 victory over Texas at Darryl K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Since then, however, WVU is an unimpressive 7-11 and even a 13th game this season would probably send the Mountaineers back to New York City to represent the Big 12 during its final trip to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

On a night when West Virginia honored one of its most famous teams -the 1993 unbeaten Big East champion Mountaineers that lost to Florida in the Sugar Bowl – Holgerson should probably have checked to see if any of the offensive linemen on that unit had any eligibility remaining.

Known as much for their missed assignments over the past two seasons as they are for their far-too-few good ones, the “Not Ready for Primetime” offensive front was as much responsible for sending starting quarterback Clint Trickett to the sidelines with an apparent concussion as the devastating hit delivered onto the former-Florida State backup signal-caller.

The fact that WVU held a 19-13 advantage at the intermission was as much a result of the defense’s continued turnaround after being torched by Baylor for 70 points as it was the Longhorns inability to take advantage of their prevent unit’s play.

In a first half that witnessed six turnovers – three by each team – the question every Mountaineer fan was asking themselves as the second half prepared to get under way was. Could the defense keep the old gold and blue in the game long enough for Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson to find an answer to the Longhorns’ defensive pressure?

Fans weren’t even afforded that joy during the second half as Texas’ Case McCoy began to find holes in the secondary and injuries continued to force defensive coordinator Keith Patterson to look toward depth the unit just doesn’t have.

But, strange things happen in Morgantown at night and they all don’t include the burning of furniture.

The offensive line began to do its job, standout running back Charles Sims continued to prove why he was the biggest pickup this staff has made during its tenure and the defense again took baby steps toward improvement as WVU gave a great effort but came out on the short end of a 47-40 overtime thriller.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com