MORGANTOWN - For the first time in 12 years, West Virginia's football team will finish a season with a losing record and will not go to a bowl game.
And after Saturday's 31-19 loss at Kansas, the reason is pretty obvious. This just wasn't a very good football team.
There are reasons - call them extenuating circumstances, if you will - the Mountaineers weren't very good, of course. On offense, there was no experience at quarterback or, really, at any of the skill positions. The defense was adjusting to its third coordinator in three years and then was just decimated by injuries. Special teams weren't very special.
But none of those excuses change the bottom line of not being very good. This is a team that struggled with the good teams on its schedule and the bad ones, too, seemingly with no bias.
A game against preseason Big 12 champion Oklahoma State? No problem. West Virginia handed the Cowboys what is still somehow their only loss. The Mountaineers also had every other upper-tier team in the Big 12 except Baylor on the ropes in the second half of games before faltering.
But perhaps just as tellingly, West Virginia also went into the second half against Georgia State and the fourth quarter against William & Mary having yet to settle matters. And then on Saturday, the Mountaineers were just taken to the woodshed by Kansas.
Those were the three worst teams on WVU's schedule and in none of them did the Mountaineers prove themselves superior from start to finish.
"This team's good enough to beat anybody at the top [of the Big 12],'' coach Dana Holgorsen said. "This team's not good enough to be able to beat anybody at the bottom if you don't play well.''
In some ways, West Virginia's struggles seem curious. It goes back to those games against the upper-level Big 12 teams in which the Mountaineers competed or even won. How could a team that beat Oklahoma State - and that led or was within striking distance of Texas and Oklahoma and a bunch of others - be so inept against lesser opponents?