WVU kicker Tyler Bitancurt is congratulated by fans after Friday's win over Iowa State that made the Mountaineers bowl eligible.
MORGANTOWN - There was a common theme among West Virginia's players and coaches Friday evening after the Mountaineers had finally snapped a five-game losing streak by winning their first game in almost two months.Relief.That was a far different feeling than the one that accompanied West Virginia's most recent victory, which was all the way back on Oct. 6 in Austin. That night the Mountaineers had beaten Texas 48-45 to get to 5-0."I reminded them that the last time we felt this good was Texas,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said following Friday's 31-24 win over Iowa State. "And I think we overreacted to that win a little bit more than I would have liked.''
Indeed, while there is plenty to celebrate now - bowl eligibility, for one - West Virginia is still just a 6-5 football team. And while nothing can erase that, the mood could change just as dramatically if the Mountaineers don't follow it with another victory.They have that chance Saturday when WVU (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) hosts Kansas (1-10, 0-8) in the regular-season finale at Mountaineer Field. The 2:30 p.m. kickoff will be televised by Fox Sports Net, aired locally on Root Sports.Holgorsen gave the players the weekend off and they will return to practice Tuesday.
"I reminded them that this still just counts as one victory,'' Holgorsen said. "Take a few days off and enjoy it. But don't think you've really accomplished anything because when we're back to work on Tuesday, it's all about the next game. And I fully expect our guys to show up on Tuesday ready to prepare to get a seventh win, which is the only thing that counts now.''Apparently, Holgorsen got that message across to his players. In the aftermath of Friday's win in Ames, they seemed well versed in the notion that one win does not a season make, even if that one win extended the season to a 13th game."That's the most important thing, to keep things in perspective,'' quarterback Geno Smith said. "After a win or a loss it's easy to get too high or too low.''And so there was great caution not to get too high after the Mountaineers had rallied to take the lead on Tavon Austin's 75-yard touchdown and then held on with the help of an Iowa State fumble at the goal line."It's different,'' Austin said. "I remember how things were after the Texas game. I think we probably celebrated too much and then had five straight losses."We're definitely happy for the win, but we've got to get back to work Tuesday and get one more.''Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1