Call this a warning to the West Virginia University football team.
When it travels to Louisville for a noon game Saturday it could be walking into the most dangerous trap since Gen. George Custer thought he’d take care of a few Indians at Little Big Horn.
Those who study the psychology of the game and try to understand how upsets occur know this is classic scenario for an upset.
Think of the factors:
a. West Virginia comes into the game off a big victory over Cincinnati
b. They go on the road to Louisville
c. Louisville comes off a loss and is in its own desperate situation, needing to win to become bowl eligible
d. Most important, the game sits the week before the Backyard Brawl meeting with Pitt that could be for the conference championship
If that isn’t a dangerous situation for a favorite, there isn’t one.
“I’m glad brought that up,” WVU Coach Bill Stewart said during his weekly Sunday conference call.
It was something, he admitted, that he had penciled in as an item of discussion with his team during its Sunday night meeting.
“The question is can you do it over and over in a different circumstance?” he said.
Winning must breed winning, no matter what the situation.
“Can you do it at home? Can you do it on the road? Can you do after an off-week? Can you do it after two tough losses? Can you do it after a win?” said Stewart.
The truth is, you have to do it in all those circumstances if you are going to be a champion.
The trick wasn’t so much getting them ready for a home game against Cincinnati after an off-week, for it came on the heels of unanticipated two-game losing streak to Syracuse and Connecticut. The season was slipping away, but when Pitt lost on Thursday night to Connecticut, it was like an injection of life into the Mountaineers.
“I knew we’d fight back,” Stewart admitted.
He knows something else, too.
“I know they’ll get ready for Pitt,” he said.
But first things first.
“They better get ready for Louisville or they’ll get their butt handed to them, just like [they did against] UConn and Syracuse,” the coach said of his players. “What you have to do is take your business – I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s still Round 5. We just have to give a little more. We gave a whole lot Saturday. Now we have to give a little more. We have to refine it, get it better, believe in the system, be sharp. If we play smart football, we usually come out pretty good.”
That is not an understatement. In fact, if you talk to the WVU players they will almost all tell you that very seldom has WVU been beat squarely and head to head by an opponent, that almost always it has come about with the Mountaineers making mistakes and turning the ball over.
In other words, their own worst enemy is themselves.
While Stewart knows that to be true, he is reluctant to come out and say it because of the way it sounds.
“I want to agree with the players but I don’t want people to think we sit over here in an arrogant manner and say the only time we lose is when we beat ourselves,” Stewart said in answering the question from Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail. “That’s a tough question. You lose when you turn the ball over with an interception, line up wrong, make mental mistakes, but I don’t want to people to say ‘Oh my gosh, no one ever beats them.’ That sounds arrogant, but there’s validity in what you say.”
In truth, if they were to lose at Louisville in this trap game, that is probably exactly what would happen, the Mountaineers playing down a level, rather than the Cardinals rising up enough to beat them without help.%
Still, Stewart knows it will be a challenge.
“We went down there two years ago and that was a tough win (WVU 35, Louisville 21). Boy that was a tough one down there. We’re going to find out just how mature this football team is,” Stewart said.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call this a warning to the West Virginia University football team.
- WVU Sports
Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit
West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.
WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5
The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules
At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.
Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma
Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.
FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing
Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.
Huggins signs junior college guard
Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.
HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing
The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.
FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors
Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
• A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.
Bussie looks forward to WNBA
On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.
WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete
The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.
- More WVU Sports Headlines
- Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit