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· Thousands of fired-up Mountaineer fans.
· Two Top 15 teams.
· A big national television audience.
· A game under the lights.
· Problems ranging from lack of discipline to lack of concentration for many of West Virginia's players.
· And, of course, the same result as in a bowl: Another WVU loss.
From Barrett Green's late hit on Joe Germaine to dropped passes by David Saunders to Amos Zereoue's disappearing act to a slew of critical penalties, the Mountaineers -- once again -- self-destructed.
Oh, sure, Ohio State's a good team.
Probably not the No. 1 team in the country right now, but good, certainly Top 5 and even with potential to win it all.
And sure, the fumbling, bumbling Buckeyes got break after break after break.
But the Mountaineers could have won this game anyway.
Or, at the very least, have made Buckeyes coach John Cooper sweat like he usually does in late November.
Instead, WVU's players entered the game yapping their traps (see Zereoue, best running back in America?), or John Thornton (they lose to Michigan every year anyway ... might as well lose to us?).
The self-proclaimed Mr. Versatility, Zereoue, finished with an awesome 77 yards, while Thornton and the rest of WVU's defense were lucky that Gary Stills let his actions talk loudest.
Otherwise, it could have gotten real ugly.
Under coach Don Nehlen, West Virginia is close, very close, to being one of the premier football programs in the country, one of those teams that starts every season -- not just every fifth season -- in the Top 15.
The players are fast. They're strong.
They're talented. And they're usually smart.
But not in a bowl game. Not in the national spotlight.
At least not yet.
Perhaps if the Mountaineers spend as much time on mental toughness as they do on physical toughness, it can be different in January.
WVU has a favorable schedule. Syracuse has little defense, and Miami's coaching staff is suspect. Pitt is getting better, but still is beatable. And there's little else to talk about.
The Mountaineers can win their final 10 regular-season games.
And with mental toughness -- a very big IF -- they can win an Alliance Bowl.
That would tie the best record ever by a WVU team.
And let's see.
Wouldn't it feel a whole lot better to win the last 11 instead of the first 11?