WVU, Holgorsen Hit "All-Time Low" with Loss - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU, Holgorsen Hit "All-Time Low" with Loss

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MORGANTOWN -

There is a limit to the number of goals that a football team can set for itself. At some point, as the losses pile up, the goals diminish.

First the hope is a national championship, oftentimes gone after the first loss of the season. The conference title and a BCS bowl game stand as possibilities, but those two can fade. West Virginia was simply looking to get bowl eligible and on Saturday, that goal also escaped the team's grasp.

Not that a 6-6 season is something the Mountaineers shoot for, but it would have ended the season with consecutive victories and given them the trip and the gear and the extra practice that come with a bowl game. It was something to strive for and it steadily slipped away after an opening drive touchdown, falling 31-19 to Kansas.

Yes, that Kansas. Yes, the same Jayhawks team that hasn't beaten a Big 12 team since 2010. That is 27 consecutive conference games that did not result in a victory for KU, the last one coming against Colorado, which now competes in the Pac 12.

This Kansas team had just two wins coming into Saturday's action and with no prospect of postseason play, it took out a group that still thought it may find itself playing in December. Now it is just one game behind WVU.

"If you come into somebody else's house and you're not ready to play, they're going to take it from you," said senior defensive lineman Shaq Rowell. "Those guys knew we were playing for a bowl bid and they said, ‘We're going to come out here and take their bowl bid.' They're not going to a bowl game, so they spoiled our dreams, too."

Rowell came to WVU to replace the nose tackle who did his job before him, Chris Neild. On Saturday night, Neild took to Twitter to ask a simple question that he never had to worry about: "What do teams do in December when there's no bowl?"

It is foreign territory for so many of the players on this roster and those who came before them. West Virginia hasn't missed out on bowling since the 2001 season, the first under former head coach Rich Rodriguez.

"This would be an all-time low," said current head coach Dana Holgorsen. "[Kansas] sensed a victory and they whooped us."

Holgorsen was brought to West Virginia at a time when the Mountaineers still competed in the Big East, but were set to welcome a new member in TCU. As the events unfolded that brought WVU to a new conference, his offensive prowess was touted as the right fit against defenses Holgorsen made a living carving up.

When the offense was working, as it did for much of 2012, it still wasn't enough to make up for a poor defensive showing that helped push the team to five-straight losses after a torrid pace to start the year. When the offense isn't working, as is the case in 2013, the result is appalling.

The lack of identity appears to leave West Virginia guessing as much as any opposing defense may be. Holgorsen points out that this is a new league, but do not kid yourself into believing that past Mountaineers teams in the Big East could not have easily done away with the Kansas team that outplayed WVU more than the final score would indicate.

"I've warned them, this is different than the Big East," Holgorsen said. "The days of just showing up and playing at a very marginal level, whether it's effort, whether it's execution, whether it's coaching, whether it's talent or whatever it is [are over]. I don't care who is it. Our team's good enough to where we can show up and play at a very high level and beat the best teams in the Big 12. Our team's not good enough to where we can show up and play average and beat anybody. That's obviously what happened today."

True, WVU has played with or beaten some of the top teams in the league and struggled with those who are inconsistent at best, or downright bad at worst. Beating Kansas would not have said anything about this program other than that it gained a fifth victory, but losing speaks volumes to the depths the Mountaineers have fallen.

Senior linebacker Doug Rigg, watching from home after sustaining one too many concussions to join his teammates, tweeted during the game that the Mountaineers showed no heart. If anyone can make an assessment like that, it's a player who joins them in battle not only on game days, but daily in practice for four seasons, as well.

Are we truly just two seasons removed from Darwin Cook tackling an orange on the way to a BCS blowout? Has it only been one season since Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin shattered the program's record books?

It seems ages ago now as Holgorsen looks up from what he calls an all-time low. 

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