A Tale of Two Teams

On paper, West Virginia and Kansas were both in fairly similar situations heading into Saturday's game in Lawrence.

Neither team was anywhere near where they wanted to be in the Big 12 Conference standings, with both teams sitting near the bottom of the league.

For Kansas, the opportunity to advance to a bowl game had gone away a while ago. For West Virginia, the Mountaineers had to win out to go bowling - even though a sixth victory would have likely just resulted in a return trip to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Both teams had things that they should have been playing for.

But watching the game unfold Saturday afternoon, it was hard to tell.

One of those teams came out fired up and ready to play, while the other looked disinterested at times - almost like it had expected to just stroll in and win the game easily.

Of course, the latter of those two teams were the Mountaineers. With a bowl berth on the line and in need of a win to keep those hopes alive, West Virginia just didn't show up.

And that's what is the most disturbing thing about it.

After the game, Dana Holgorsen called out the team's efforts, saying they gave up.

Kevin White said they took the Jayhawks lightly and expected to come in and stroll to victory.

"I thought we were going to beat them by a lot. Everybody was just calm like, 'Yeah, we've got it,'" White said. "I just think we took them too lightly. We came out dead, we just weren't into it."

That statement on its own is a little troubling to hear from any team. Granted, sometimes it's hard for teams to get up for its smaller games - for example, Alabama is probably going to look forward to playing the likes of LSU a little more than the Georgia States of the world.

But what has this West Virginia team done this season to merit being able to look past anyone, even a team like Kansas?

With the exception of catching a few breaks and picking up a big upset against Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers haven't done a lot of things that have looked pretty with much consistency. Every time WVU has made a play that made you think it was about to move forward, it would take a few steps back.

You saw that Saturday against the Jayhawks.

For a drive, West Virginia looked great offensively. It was running what it wanted to, executing on short, quick passes, using tempo and spreading the ball around to its playmakers. Then, just as you started to think things might be different this time, they got worse.

Drives sputtered, turnovers happened and the Mountaineers lost control.

It's the story of this season, one that West Virginia is going to want to forget as soon as possible once the Iowa State game is over in two weeks.

"I've warned them that this is different than the Big East," Holgorsen said after the game.

"The years of showing up and playing at a very marginal effort - whether it's effort, whether it's execution, whether it's coaching, whether it's talent - you can't show up and be average and win."

Holgorsen's right. You can't just show up and be an average team and just expect to beat teams.

And you would think that if any team knew that it would be this very average West Virginia team.

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