But that's not what's happening to West Virginia. The Mountaineers instead are getting overwhelmed by the level of the competition and it's getting to them mentally.
Don't for a moment think that West Virginia has never laid an egg like the one it put down at Texas Tech to start this losing streak. It has. Often. Shoot, it happened just last year, a pounding at the hands of a Syracuse team that was mediocre, at best.
Ah, but then there was Rutgers a week later. There was always Rutgers, it seemed. And then at the end of the season, when a three-game win streak was necessary to salvage the season, there was Cincinnati, Pitt and South Florida.
This year? Instead of Rutgers following the stinker at Texas Tech, there was now-No. 1 Kansas State. And when needing a winning streak after that loss to the Wildcats to reclaim momentum, there was TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
Dana Holgorsen probably said it best a month ago when he offered a line that few took note of, but cuts right to the core. His team had just outshot Baylor and then went to Austin and beat Texas. The trip to Lubbock was next.
"They wanted it to be easy,'' he said after the Red Raiders didn't make it anything close to that.
Translation: They wanted it to be Rutgers.
But it wasn't Rutgers that week or the next or the next or the next. It's just one talented team after another, almost all of them used to the weekly grind. The lone exception was TCU, which is West Virginia and Boise State in purple. It's no coincidence that was the one game in this stretch the Mountaineers should have won.
And that's basically what all of this comes down to. Are there issues with coaching and decision-making and injuries and all of the routine things that decide games? Probably. But don't underestimate mere circumstances. This is a football team with enough talent to compete with anybody, but not one that can compete with anyone week after week after week. And the failure to do so just compounds matters because the players in this program now have never been in this situation before.
It all takes some getting used to - the no-breaks schedule, the better athletes, the new venues. It will take time to acclimate and even more time perhaps to recruit to that level.
In the meantime, continue to complain about defensive strategy or execution, about special teams comedies of error, about offensive failings. Know, though, that they are all tied to one thing. West Virginia has taken a big step up in competition and it's never going to be as easy as it once was.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.