The win against Oklahoma State remains the biggest point spread-based upset in college football this season. Losses to Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and now Iowa State were, in reality, decided by a few plays and in some instances by one play.
Yet at the end, WVU was no better in those situations than it was almost three months ago in a 16-7 loss to the Sooners, a game doomed buy four turnovers, no better in the third overtime game than it was in the first. The Mountaineers played five overtime periods this season, which are five possessions that start at the 25-yard line. They didn't score a touchdown.
The Mountaineers had four more turnovers against Iowa State. They had at least one turnover every game, multiple turnovers eight times and at least as many as the opponent eight times. WVU was mostly mistake free for the majority of Saturday's loss, but started giving the ball away in the final 18:25.
The Cyclones were down 38-21 before turning three turnovers into 17 points - and they fired their offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and running backs coach Sunday.
The fourth turnover was an interception on a Hail Mary at the end of regulation, but that was nevertheless chaotic for WVU. Despite the turnovers before that, the Mountaineers had a chance to win in regulation and took over at their 22 with 53 seconds left to play.
A false start backed the ball up 5 yards, but WVU converted a third-and-8 and a third-and-14 to get the ball to the 50. WVU spiked the ball and then Iowa State called two timeouts. Then came another penalty on a needless delay of game.
"I can't explain the delay," Holgorsen said. "We got a call in there, but we just didn't snap it quickly enough."
The Mountaineers managed an 11-yard gain doing what they planned to do before the penalty, but they decided against a 61-yard field goal. Holgorsen said WVU would have given kicker Josh Lambert a shot from 56 yards away.
Between the first turnover and that mistake at the end of regulation, the Mountaineers moved away from a running game that was very good in the first three quarters. They had 205 yards rushing after 45 minutes. They walked off the field the final time with 212 yards on the ground.
In its final 28 plays of the game, WVU passed 18 times - two interceptions and a fumble lost by seldom-used receiver Vernon Davis - and ran 10 times and only had the ball for 3:57 of the final 18:25.
"You can sit there and have the mentality about running the ball three times and letting the clock run, but with that mentality, you're going to end up punting," said Holgorsen, who hired Ron Crook from Stanford as his offensive line coach in the offseason because he was tired of not being able to run the ball when it mattered. "You run the ball and get negative-one yards. Run it again and you might get two yards, but you're going to end up punting."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.