Sports, whether one is a participant or spectator, is a form of entertainment and a great diversion from the serious matters of life. But become emotionally involved and sports can mimic life with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, sometimes in close proximity in time.
Such was the case for West Virginia Mountaineer fans this past week. The pendulum swung from the euphoria of an exciting win over Texas in Austin to a thrashing at the hands of Texas Tech just seven days later in Lubbock.
We knew the Big 12 Conference schedule would feature some big-time shootouts. But this wasn't a shootout. It was more like Custer's Last Stand, and we weren't the Indians. The Mountaineer muskets had few bullets and the Red Raiders took no prisoners.
Geno Smith and the West Virginia offense had a bad day, but in football that's going to happen on occasion. The problem wasn't that the points weren't there so much that it wouldn't have mattered even if they were. Watching the game did you have any doubt that Texas Tech could have scored whatever they needed?
Defenses have off days, too. But the Mountaineer defense didn't just have a bad day Saturday. They are, well, just plain bad. In three Big 12 games, WVU has surrendered 52 points per game. But look closer inside the numbers and it gets even worse.
In the three conference games thus far West Virginia opponents have had 36 possessions (not counting the last one by the Red Raiders simply running out the clock). Of those 36 possessions opponents have been in WVU territory an unbelievable 32 times (okay, 2 of those started in our territory, but you get my point).
A defense which surrenders a touchdown for each time its opponents punt would be considered poor. But get this: West Virginia has forced just four punts in those 36 possessions while surrendering 22 touchdowns. That's right. For every punt they have surrendered 5 TDs.
As bad as all that sounds, it actually would have been worse but for four turnovers and four missed field goals by the opposition, things which cannot be counted upon each week.
Want some more? How about 34 plays of more than 15 yards? Or that Texas Tech had 336 yards passing in the just the first half, or averaged for the game nearly 10 yards per play.
The problem that arises is that the offense now takes the field with the pressure knowing it must play nearly a flawless game and score every possession. But that's too much to ask. Even Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have off days on occasion.
The Mountaineers took the field ranked No. 5 in the nation and left 3 hours later with their worst defeat in 11 years (a 45-3 loss to Miami in 2001). It doesn't get much higher and lower than that.
Had enough? Yeah, me too. Let's move on.
This Saturday: In the 1980s, Kansas State had one of the worst football programs in the nation until Bill Snyder came along and turned them into a perennial winner in what many believe to be one of the great coaching jobs ever. Snyder eventually retired but after three years was lured back. And what has he done? An overachieving 10-3 season in 2011, and in 2012 despite being picked in the middle of the conference pack is ranked in the top 10 and is the remaining lone undefeated Big 12 team.
The Wildcats feature an exceptional quarterback in Collin Klein, who actually does most of his damage running the football. This is a team that knows how to win, with a 10-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less the last two seasons. So maybe they're due to come up on the short end of one of those. West Virginia 35, Kansas State 34.