MORGANTOWN - Perhaps WVU athletic director Oliver Luck needs to call in a screenwriter.
Because this certainly isn't how West Virginia's football season was scripted.
With a nice stable of lethal offensive weapons in place and offensive whiz Dana Holgorsen taking over, the Mountaineers were not supposed to be batting .500 within the Big East after four league games.
Yet after downing WVU 38-35 on a beautiful Saturday in Litigation, er, Touchdown City, there were the Louisville players mockingly singing, "West Virginia, mountain mama ..." There was a Cardinal player being told his team was a 131/2-point underdog - and laughing.
It was a bad day for WVU's football team. It capped a bad week for the school's athletic department. The Big East filed a lawsuit against the Big 12-bound school on Friday. That evening, the men's basketball team, a Final Four participant in 2010, was stunned by a Division II team in an exhibition.
And then came Saturday's defeat. As one fan said exiting Milan Puskar Stadium, not a good day to be a Mountaineer wherever you may be. The sign hanging in the team weight room celebrating the Jan. 2, 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma even seemed to be taunting.
What's happening? Is it bad karma because WVU is trying to exit the Big East early? Uh, probably not. Louisville coach Charlie Strong said the Big 12's choice of WVU over the Cardinals didn't come into play. ("I don't think our players even thought about that," said the coach.)
Yet there was Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith hanging his head after another loss.
"I'm not going to coin us as losers," said Smith, "but we're not doing what it takes to win."
Especially not what it takes to reach preseason expectations. Holgorsen was expected to take this Mountaineer team and revive it. He was supposed to turn the clock back to the days of Rich Rodriguez. Back to the days when WVU won 11 games three straight seasons. Now he's on the same pace as Bill Stewart's last season - if the Mountaineers can win out.
West Virginia hasn't just lost its swagger, it's staggering.
Remember after the loss to LSU? Most gave West Virginia's team a pass, despite losing by 26. The Mountaineers bounced back with 55-10 and 43-16 victories over Bowling Green and Connecticut, respectively. A Big East title seemed the destiny.
But not now. Not after losses to Syracuse and Louisville and a close win over Rutgers. One has to question whether Holgorsen has lost this team, but what one can't question is that opponents are putting forth more effort, more intensity and enthusiasm than the Mountaineers.
Even defensive lineman Julian Miller acknowledges that.
"[Opponents] see that you're supposed to be the Big East favorites," Miller said. "You have to go out there and match their enthusiasm and intensity - their hard play. That's something we can do at any given point, but to put it together for a whole game, for four quarters, we're still having trouble doing that.
"I think that's haunted us these past couple of games."
Halloween is supposed to be over, but before 57,287 rowdy fans at Puskar Stadium, Louisville not only threw a scare into the Mountaineers, it demonized the hosts via that intensity and enthusiasm. Running back Victor Anderson was on the sideline pumping up his team. Strong was into the game.
"That's what it's all about," Strong said afterward. "I said to them, the only people we have right now are the guys in this room. It's all we have. So we're going to go out and play this game. The amazing thing is, it doesn't matter where you are, if you just go and play hard, and you go play with some energy and some emotion, who cares where you are?"