FORT WORTH, Texas - When West Virginia emerged from an open week to play Texas Tech, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson could only hope his players were recovered from a 73-42 loss and an experience "unlike anything I've ever been associated with in my life."
That didn't happen and the Mountaineers surrendered 21 unanswered points in the final 20 minutes of a loss to Texas Tech.
Patterson brought WVU to Kansas State last week and again hoped the defense had recovered from another shock to its self-esteem. It was a 12-7 lead in the third quarter. The Wildcats had eight first downs and 169 yards of offense and, as far as Patterson was concerned, not a lot going their way.
"We were just totally in control," Patterson said. "I'm thinking, 'Maybe today is our day. Maybe something good is going to happen to us.' "
Kansas State instead ripped off four straight touchdown drives, converted their final seven third downs of the game and had 279 yards of offense. The climax made the 35-12 loss "maybe one of the strangest games I've been associated with," Patterson said.
The Wildcats had been 1-for-6 on third down that game and had only scored 21, 29 and 25 points in their first three Big 12 games.
"I've never seen where seven plays lead to something of such a catastrophic proportion," Patterson said. "Seven plays on those drives that led to 28 points? I'm just going, 'How do you hold someone for 21/2 quarters to seven points and 150 yards and then the next four possessions allow 300 yards of offense and 28 points? How do you do that? You almost have to try to do that.'"
Now Patterson's defense has to try to reverse the troubling trend of unprecedented events and unsettling performances to end a three-game losing streak and help the Mountaineers reach a bowl for a 12th consecutive season.
WVU plays TCU and its scuffling offense at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPNU. Both teams are 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12 and need to win three of their final four games to be bowl eligible.
To get over themselves and their recent past, the Mountaineers are starting quite literally with a blank slate. Patterson wiped clean the dry erase board he uses to track his defense's performance in key categories throughout the season. Gone are the results from the first eight games. All that's left are blanks under the categories for the final four games.
"There are plenty of negatives to go around," Patterson said. "I just said, 'Hey, the bottom line is we're down to a four-game season. It doesn't matter what we've done to this point, good or bad. Let's just try to focus on the next four football games and try to get better every week.' It's a fresh start."