The mostly empty Cotton Bowl was the eerie site of a one-sided college football game in which Murphy’s Law took center stage.
Murphy’s Law states that “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” And West Virginia’s outclassed Mountaineers were on the wrong end of the law in being drubbed by Utah, 30-14, in the lightly-attended Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Played before a very small crowd that braved the 39-degree temperature and generally gloomy conditions, the game was all Utah as the Utes dominated from beginning to end of the three hours and 22 minutes of near-torture for Mountaineers fans everywhere.
Utah came into Dallas with a 6-6 record and only qualified for any bowl by defeating Colorado in its last regular season game to get the necessary six wins to gain bowl status.
There were six first downs in the WVU column. Until its final possession against a group of Utah reserves, the Mountaineers had a mere three first downs. As the game crawled to its close, the Mountaineers had registered 29 rushing yards on 21 attempts, and completed 10-of-30 passes good for 124 yards with two interceptions.
Utah had 80 plays on offense while WVU had but 51 plays.
Dunked on the dank day, West Virginia had the excuse that offensive linemen Kyle Bosch and Yodny Cajuste were missing, as were quarterback Will Grier and running back Justin Crawford. Utah wasn’t as bothered by the three defensive backs it didn’t have available.
Somewhat hidden in the race to forget the entire game was the play of receiver David Sills V (who had no catches), freshman lineman Lamont West (one tackle) and offensive linemen Kelly Wickline (who rarely handled his blocking assignments).
People are going to have to realize that simply putting on a helmet with the flying “WV” insignia on it and donning a dark blue jersey and Cheez-Whiz-colored yellow pants doesn’t make a college football player.
Nearly every school in the country has a recruiting advantage over West Virginia.
Just because an athlete makes the walk through friendly fans before a home game – and then goes through pre-game warmups with students chanting “Let’s go Mountaineers,” the magnificent marching band performing ahead of the action – doesn’t mean the player is going to help beat Oklahoma, TCU or Texas.
West Virginia’s depth is always suspicious. And with seniors Bosch, Cajuste, Ka’Raun White and Kyzir White among those leaving, another dozen or so reasonable, new-face players will be needed again in 2018.
And can West Virginia beat many teams inside the Big 12 – other than Kansas – with that three-man front defense? The Mountaineers would need a heavy load of quality players other than West to provide playmaking anchors in the front three.
Even though Utah often wins its bowl games when it qualifies for one, the Utes were an ordinary team.
Where does West Virginia get better athletes – those blessed with speed, quickness and raw talent, ready to use the weight room to become stronger and more agile with more endurance? The answer isn’t found among the high schoolers residing from Wheeling to War or from Harpers Ferry to Huntington.
The bushes from New Jersey to Nacogdoches, Texas, and from Ohio to Opa-locka, Florida. have to be beaten with a verve bordering on exhaustion.
The flying “WV” was grounded in Dallas.
And there was no way to paint a pretty picture of what happened to a team with six first downs and 29 rushing yards.