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MMQB: Country Roads and Friendly Foes

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Jamie went to Morgantown, and came back with a good impression of WVU fans.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

TCU lost to West Virginia 47-10 on Saturday, in what was the most lopsided defeat of the Gary Patterson era.

It happened in the midst of sub-freezing temperatures, a brutally cold wind, a loud opposing crowd, and revealed that TCU’s depth, plagued by injuries, couldn’t overcome critical mistakes or execute a game plan to keep up with the Mountaineer’s high-powered offense.

And I was there to see it. Bundled up in 7 layers and still wondering when frostbite was going to set in, I, with three of my buddies, sat in section 107 and watched TCU get dismantled.

And you know what? It was still a good weekend.

Three of us landed in DC on Friday morning, picked up by the fourth of our crew who now lives in Virginia. We threw our stuff in the car, and hit the road, getting to Morgantown around 4 that afternoon.

I immediately knew that forgetting my gloves at home was a mistake, so after a quick stop to grab a pair, we headed to the hotel. We spent Friday night trying to stay warm and dry. We grabbed a beer at a local spot called Varsity Club, where the walls were jam-packed with West Virginia memorabilia - photos of the original Mountaineer football team, framed Sports Illustrated covers featuring Pat White and Steve Slaton from the 2007 squad, Bruce Irvin, Geno Smith, and Tavon Austin from the ‘11 team, and many a helmet stacked on shelves all around the space.

We walked in, sat down, and were greeted but a multitude of “welcome to Morgantown!” and “Thanks for coming” from the WVU fans all around us. It didn’t stop at Varsity Club either.

Dinner that evening featured multiple freebies, as friendly Mountaineers continued to welcome us to town.

It was at this point that I thought their hospitality was linked to one of two things:

  1. They are generally a happy and welcoming group
  2. They were so confident in how the game would play out, they didn’t feel the need to talk trash.

Those in our group who had been to Morgantown before assured me that it was option No. 1. I asked several WVU fans about this throughout the weekend, and they all note that they’ve had a big shift as a fanbase in recent years. While none of them could quite put a finger on why, they all noted that Mountaineer fans have been a friendlier bunch since joining the Big 12. I’m guessing it’s because they don’t have to deal with Pitt fans every year anymore.

Saturday began with a snow flurry, and the four of us wondering if seven consecutive hours in this weather would actually kill us. But we bundled up anyway and headed outside. Our hotel was across the street from the stadium, and a previous connection with some WVU fans meant we had a short walk to our tailgate spot in the blue lot.

Before stopping with the group who invited us to spend the morning with them, we took a lap around the blue lot, checking out the scene. The Morgantown hospitality continued, with fans offering us food, beer, moonshine (no joke), and a “we’re glad you’re here,” every third tent or so.

We finally landed at our tailgate spot, where Country Roads was blasting and a crowd of WVU fans were playing a game called Stump, which is literally just a group of people taking turns trying to hammer nails into a stump.

After trying a popular WVU tailgate snack, a pepperoni roll, and multiple flavors of moonshine (including Apple Pie and Lemonade) we headed into the stadium to find our seats. Surrounded by more friendly Mountaineers, we watch TCU get absolutely thumped, which leads us into the meat of this piece.

The Good

My one hope for this season is that we all recognize the greatness that is Jalen Reagor. On a day where almost nothing went right for TCU, Reagor finished with 11 receptions, 150 receiving yards, and TCU’s lone touchdown. He’s got 884 receiving yards on the season, and if he meets his average yards per game over the final two games of the season (88.4) he’ll be the first 1,000 yard receiver for TCU since Josh Doctson did it in back-to-back years in 2014 & 2015, and just the third player in TCU history to eclipse that mark in a single season (Doctson and Reggie Harrell are the other two).

After Saturday’s game, Reagor is 23rd all-time in receptions (93), 16th all-time in receiving yards (1,460), and tied for 6th all-time in receiving touchdowns (15).

He’s TCU’s latest elite receiver, and he should be recognized as such even with TCU sitting at 4-6 on the season.

The Bad

Special teams has been beyond brutal lately. Multiple mistakes on kickoffs hurt TCU on Saturday, including two mishandled kicks that led to TCU being pinned deep, and a turnover that set up a WVU touchdown. Sure, the ball probably felt like trying to catch a brick on Saturday, but as Patterson said after the game, TCU can’t afford to make mistakes like that.

Defensively the injuries are starting to show, too. The Frogs gave up over 530 yards of offense to West Virginia, as the Mountaineers consistently ran the wide-open-receiver play. Will Grier finished the day with 343 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, helping pad his Heisman campaign stats.

Lastly, the offense was just awful (outside of Reagor). the Frogs managed just 229 yards of offense, and a whopping -7 rushing yards. It’s the lowest rushing amount since 2001, and the second lowest of the Patterson era. This is also the eighth game that TCU has scored 28 points or less, a streak that hearkens us back to the 1997 campaign, when TCU went 1-11.

Bowl eligibility is looking pretty bleak at this point.

The Play of the Day

I mean, what else would it be?

Next Up

It’s Baylor hate week, and the Frogs are looking to keep their hopes of a bowl alive, while Baylor would love to beat TCU for win No. 6 on the season.