MORGANTOWN - Yogi Berra was famous for saying that baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half physical.
Dana Holgorsen isn't quite as mathematically challenged, perhaps, but over the course of the last few weeks he has proven that his philosophy is pretty much the same.
All else being equal, wanting to succeed more than the other guy is just as significant as having the physical tools to succeed. In games against Syracuse and Rutgers, the West Virginia coach has seen both sides.
West Virginia got pushed around at the Carrier Dome and didn't take it seriously. The result was an embarrassing 49-23 loss.
Then a week later in wretched weather at Rutgers, the Mountaineers were again bullied for a half, yet turned things completely around and won 41-31.
The difference, Holgorsen said, was all mental.
"When your back is to the wall, you tend to respond with a bit more energy,'' Holgorsen said. "I thought we were excited to play going into Syracuse and our preparation was fine, but the biggest thing was when we got smacked, we didn't respond. Then last week [at Rutgers], there were a lot of opportunities to shut it down: It was too cold, they're winning by 10, this is not working out how we wanted it to, etc.
"We responded better within the game. I anticipate our preparation this week will be fine. It's about continuing to mature as a team and play well together and pick each other up and having more energy and excitement than the other team. When things get bad, you have to have the ability to step up and do something about it.''
This week presents another challenge when No. 24 West Virginia (6-2, 2-1 Big East) faces Louisville (4-4, 2-1) at noon Saturday at Mountaineer Field. It is yet another game in which the Mountaineers are solid favorites (14 points) against an unranked team.
There seems little question that the general consensus is that West Virginia is the better team. Louisville's offense is among the worst in the country (No. 103 out of 120 FBS schools) and while the Cardinals do play exceptional defense, WVU has at times proven that doesn't matter. The Mountaineers rang up 533 yards against No. 1 LSU, 643 in a win over Bowling Green and even 428 in a blizzard at Rutgers.