It was a loss that senior wide receiver Kevin White called “embarrassing,” and left the Mountaineers humiliated and eliminated them from bowl eligibility for the first time in more than a decade.
And with that in the back of their minds, WVU came into Saturday night’s contest with a simple goal in mind: Take care of business and leave with a win.
The Mountaineers did that, leaving little doubt in a 33-14 victory.
It’s been something West Virginia hasn’t always been great at the last few seasons. When an inferior opponent is on the other sideline, the Mountaineers have sometimes seemed to play down to their level – getting out to slow starts, not capitalizing on the opportunities they get and oftentimes paying for it. But that wasn’t the case Saturday, as the Mountaineers handled Kansas in a similar way they did Towson a few weeks back.
Even when WVU started slowly offensively, trying to build momentum before striking for a few bigger plays and starting to put more points up on the scoreboard, there was never any doubt which team was in control.
Defense set the tone early and never looked back, providing a dominant performance. Kansas only ran one play in WVU territory until its scoring drive late in the third quarter that started in the red zone after a muffed punt on one of WVU’s only costly errors of the game.
Once the offense started to come around, and Trickett found his rhythm with the Mountaineer receivers – along with a steady showing by the WVU running game – the Jayhawks didn’t have a chance. It wasn’t a record-breaking night by any means, and afterward there was a sense that this was a team that was far from happy with its performance even though it left with a victory.
This team was challenged to play for a full 60 minutes. They were told not to look up and pay attention to the scoreboard, but play every snap as if the outcome of the game relied on it.
Were there a few mental lapses, including some that came back to haunt the Mountaineers? Sure. But at the end of the day, it was exactly what West Virginia needed to do. It executed well enough to leave with a comfortable win and build a little more confidence and momentum heading into a crucial stretch that includes some very difficult down the stretch of Big 12 Conference play.
There’s no question that this isn’t a signature win and something for WVU to hang its hat on as it prepares to head to Lubbock in a week. But it’s a win that this team needed to keep on the right track and take care of business the way it needs to if it wants to be competitive in this conference and get the chance to break back into contention to go bowling at the end of the season.
It came into this week against a KU team in turmoil having just lost its head coach, and needed to capitalize on anything it got in order to keep moving in the right direction. And at the end of the day, the Mountaineers did just that. They won the game, saw some positives and things to work on, and there was never any doubt.
West Virginia took care of business Saturday afternoon, and really that’s all you can ask for.