MORGANTOWN - There's likely to be a bit of a mix of looking forward and back as West Virginia reconvenes this week to prepare for a Saturday game at Rutgers.
True, Dana Holgorsen preaches always looking ahead and concentrating on the next step in the road. But it might behoove the Mountaineers to also recall the last step, which turned into a huge stumble.
There is, after all, a lesson to be had there.
"You don't want to say it, but maybe we needed this to happen,'' defensive end Julian Miller said. "We can't keep playing the way we've been playing and expect to get through the rest of the season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We have to pick everything up. We have to learn from this loss.''
That would, of course, be West Virginia's lopsided 49-23 beat-down at the hands of Syracuse Friday night at the Carrier Dome. The loss effectively took a team that was considered the overwhelming favorite to win the Big East title and threw it back onto the pile with everyone else.
If winning the Big East wasn't a dog fight before, it certainly is now.
Consider that Cincinnati is the only unbeaten team in league play at just 2-0. South Florida is winless at 0-3. And everyone else - six teams - has won loss and is now more than a game away from the top spot.
The most aggravating thing for West Virginia seems to be giving up its ability to control its own destiny. Yes, the Mountaineers pretty much still do. They have a game at Cincinnati next month and with most of the remaining teams that are in the logjam. The truth is if they win out there aren't many bad scenarios except for a two-way tie with Syracuse, which WVU would lose.
But the thought of that one eats at the Mountaineers, who went through the same thing a year ago after losing back-to-back games to Syracuse and Connecticut.
"That's a huge thing. That's the thing we try to get across to the younger guys,'' senior linebacker Najee Goode said. "They don't realize what it's like to have your future in somebody else's hands. As a man, as a person, as a football player you want to control your own destiny.''