For the second time this season, West Virginia will look to rebound after a close loss to a ranked opponent.
The Mountaineers have now lost nine straight games to ranked opponents, but will have another opportunity to bounce back and end their infamous streak against No. 24 Texas Tech as conference play heats up.
“I think they got a bad taste in their mouth right now,” West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “I like where they’re at mentally.”
West Virginia’s narrow loss to TCU has drawn numerous comparisons to its season opening loss to Virginia Tech. Some of those similarities include the final score, the game coming down to the final drive and West Virginia’s inability to come out on top despite looking like the better team.
“We need to make a few corrections and improve in specific areas,” West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “It felt the same way at Virginia Tech. I said the same thing after Virginia Tech. If we get in that situation again, let’s get to a point where we can win that game. We didn’t unfortunately, which means that we need to continue to practice and continue to improve.”
Miscues and breakdowns cost the Mountaineers in both of their losses this season.
In order for West Virginia to climb up in both the Big 12 and national rankings, the Mountaineers are going to have to eliminate their mistakes and prove that they are not only capable of beating ranked teams, but also coming out on top in close games.
“We had opportunities to win the game,” fifth-year senior linebacker Al Rasheed Benton said. “We didn’t take advantage of it on all three sides of the ball. We got to work on discipline and make sure we execute in those situations and come out on top. You want to be the kind of team we want to be, you got to win those kind of games.“
That discipline along with the leadership that players like Benton and other fellow upperclassmen bring will be a key factor as the team overcomes adversity.
“I think we have good leadership with some older guys,” Holgorsen said. “It means a lot to them, and they have been around here for a while.”
The positive thing is that West Virginia has had some recent success bouncing back after tough losses.
West Virginia rebounded with wins following both of its regular season losses last season along with a win against East Carolina after the loss to Virginia Tech earlier this season.
Despite their two losses, the Mountaineers still have their goals intact with a berth into the Big 12 Championship Game still up for grabs.
“We all know the Big 12’s still up in the air,” junior wide receiver David Sills. “We think we can still get back to Cowboys Stadium and play whoever comes out of that. Conference play always is hard and anyway you can get a win no matter what team it is is huge.”
The Mountaineers will look to keep those Big 12 Championship hopes alive as they face the Red Raiders, only this time, they hope the outcome will be different if faced with another tight game situation.
“We are probably going to be in that situation again here moving forward this year.” Holgorsen said. “When we are, hopefully, we can finish it. I like where they are at. We have a great group of kids that like to play and continue to work hard. They compete hard, and as a head guy, that is all you can ask for.”