Allowing a team to come back from a second-half deficit is tough to handle once for a lot of teams, let alone doing it in back-to-back weeks.
Looking back on Saturday's win against TCU when the season is over might not show a whole lot. There are still a ton of improvements for West Virginia to make, and a lot of work left to be done for the Mountaineers to become eligible for a bowl game.
But it did show one thing. They won't quit – or, at least, they haven't yet.
Heading into this week, it was becoming tougher to look at the rest of West Virginia’s season with a lot of optimism. The Mountaineers had just four games left on the schedule with three wins needed to go to a bowl game, and after showing a lack of ability to show up and pull out victories in close games, it was becoming tougher every week to see where those three wins would come from.
With everything West Virginia has had thrown at it the last few weeks, all the tough breaks it’s been given, it needed to show that it was able to win a game like this one. But it didn’t need to show it to me, or any of you or anyone else, the Mountaineers needed to show that to themselves.
After the game, Shaq Rowell joked with reporters that he almost forgot what it felt like to win a game. While that was obviously a joke, there is some truth to it. West Virginia hadn’t won a game in more than a month. It’s three losses were all tough blows to deal with – whether it was a game against Baylor that WVU didn’t have much of a chance to win from the start or letdowns like Texas Tech and Kansas State where the Mountaineers let leads slip through their fingers.
Going through that took a toll on this team’s confidence. That’s why you heard all of the things about players trying get back to trusting the system and one another. It’s tough to do that sometimes when things aren’t going well.
Now, did West Virginia play well Saturday? For the most part, I’d say no. There were still way too many stretches with bad mistakes that a good team would have been able to take advantage of. Luckily for WVU, TCU isn’t that good either.
But the two important things to look at are the facts that West Virginia played well enough, and took advantage of the breaks it was given and was able to win a game against a team that represented one of its best chances for one of those three wins it needs.
Last week’s outlook for the rest of the season was bleak. It looked like the Mountaineers would have a tough time finishing better than 5-7 and would be watching college football’s bowl season from home in December.
After Saturday’s win, that changed a little bit. WVU opened its chances up to make a run to a bowl game.
Now, it won’t set the world on fire. This is still likely a 6-6 team at best.
But when they were down and could have closed up shop for the season and coasted through 12 games and called it a year, they didn’t quit. The Mountaineers pulled through, fought past the struggles they’ve experienced – and learned from them – in order to do two of the things they haven’t been able to do in quite some time.
They won on the road, and they pulled out a close game by making the plays they needed to in crucial situations.
With those items scratched off the list, WVU can continue to build off what they did and see if it can claw its way back into bowl contention and salvage this season for its seniors.