Strange Similarities


TONY'S TAKE
By Tony Caridi for WVUsports.com
October 31, 2012 03:24 PM

There is a strange similarity between this week’s WVU-TCU game and the only other meeting these two programs had back in 1984.

The 1984 season here in Morgantown will always be one of the most memorable in school history. Don Nehlen’s squad was a special group. In the span of three weeks it defeated the Syracuse Orangemen (yeah, that was their name then), future Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie and the fourth-rated Boston College Eagles, and Joe Paterno’s 19th-ranked Nittany Lions of Penn State (snapping a 29-year winless streak against PSU).

To say Mountaineer Nation was euphoric would be an understatement. Everyone was ga-ga about the Gold and Blue. It was the same kind of rush that many enjoyed earlier this month following victories over Baylor and Texas to begin Big 12 Conference play.

And, then IT happened. Oh, IT happened and it really hurt. The residue of the 1984 hat trick of victories was injuries. The Mountaineers lack of depth was uncovered (or exposed), and in the next three weeks, the once high-flying Gold and Blue came crashing down. And, IT hurt. Although favored, WVU lost successive games to Virginia, Rutgers and Temple.

All of the national love that had been heaped upon the Mountaineers had vanished. Thank goodness Al Gore hadn’t yet invented the Internet, because the message boards would have been vicious.

But, not all was lost. Nehlen and crew used their six weeks between the regular season finale and the bowl game to see his team return to full health. The opponent was, you guessed it, the Horned Frogs of TCU. On New Year’s Eve, a rejuvenated Mountaineer team went into the Houston Astrodome and absolutely spanked the Frogs, 31-14. It was a perfect way to salvage a season that had been on the brink.

This Saturday, another once high-flying Mountaineer team will try to salvage its season against the visitors from TCU. Yes, this WVU team has not had the luxury of six weeks between games, but there are similarities between this year’s team and the 1984 squad. Both groups had tasted the sweet nectar of national love and too many pats on the back. Ultimately, their lack of depth exposed their vulnerability.

Will two weeks be enough to repair this Mountaineer team, which is hurting physically and mentally?

We’ll find out together on Saturday if TCU will once again be the elixir that can cure the Mountaineers’ woes or if the damage is just too big to fix.
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