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Can the Win Streak Continue? Mountaineers lead TCU series

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The 2-4 Mountaineer football team is on a three-game tear through the program’s match-up with the TCU Horned Frogs, who sit at 3-3 on the season. The series, currently at 6-4 in favor of WVU, will be tested this Saturday, when WVU head coach Neal Brown and the Mountaineers storm into Fort Worth, Texas hoping for the team’s first conference win of 2021.

The Mountaineers and Horned Frogs became reacquainted after 28 years when the two both joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012. Prior to the two’s inclusion in the realigning Big 12, WVU and TCU had only seen each other once: 1984. In the Bluebonnet Bowl, the Mountaineers, lead by then-fifth year head coach Don Nehlen and quarterback Kevin White. The 1984 WVU roster finished its independent season 8-4, capping it with the dominant win over TCU 31-14.

In 2012, when TCU and WVU were admitted into the Big 12 Conference, it began a string of shootouts. 2012 welcomed the Horned Frogs to Milan Puskar Stadium and saw the team’s first series win: a one-point victory over then-WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen’s Mountaineers 39-38.

With the series now tied at one, the 2013 Mountaineers headed to Fort Worth for the first time. WVU quarterback Clint Trickett’s team held the Horned Frogs to 27 points, but failed to collect the go-ahead score, forcing the series’ first overtime. In overtime, WVU pulled out the series’ first road victory 30-27 on the back of a clutch, six-play drive concluded by a 34-yard field goal from kicker Josh Lambert.

2014 brought the match-up back to Morgantown, along with WVU’s second series home loss. In the second one-point differential, the Horned Frogs, lead by quarterback Trevone Boykin, pounded down the field the entire game, keeping WVU on its toes. Heading into the fourth quarter, WVU was leading, but only by six. Lambert struck first, adding a 23-yard field goal to boost the Mountaineers to 30, but it was all for naught, as the TCU rushing game won out. The Horned Frogs closed the gap to 30-28 off a rushing touchdown with seven and a half minutes to go. When the Mountaineer offense couldn’t close, TCU drove back down the field; in the last second of the game, TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Horned Frogs the program’s second series win.

2015 dealt WVU the first multi-score loss of the series: a 40-10 loss at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The WVU offense was utterly mitigated this season, leaving three scoreless quarters on the board. WVU’s quarterback Skyler Howard only found Shelton Gibson for one touchdown pass: a 32-yarder in the second quarter. It was followed quickly by another Lambert field goal, but the Mountaineer scoring dried up before halftime. This game added a fourth loss to the last time WVU has entered conference play winless through at least three games.

2016 got the Mountaineers back on track and also provided WVU its first home win of the series. The then-No. 12 West Virginia team was on a five-game winning streak to start the season, and the Horned Frogs were Holgorsen’s next victim. Howard threw four touchdown passes to Daikiel Shorts, Gibson, Gary Jennings, and Ka’Raun White, and kicker Mike Molina added two field goals to help the WVU offense secure the win. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, WVU’s defense held TCU to only a field goal in the first quarter, a touchdown in the second, and then held the line to render the Horned Frogs scoreless in the second half, ending the game with a Mountaineer victory, 34-10.

In 2017, TCU entered the yearly match-up ranked No. 8 in the nation. Nevertheless, then- No. 23 West Virginia brought the heat down to Fort Worth. WVU scored on its first possession of the game off a Molina field goal, but the momentum quickly died. TCU rallied back with a touchdown in the second quarter, taking the lead 7-3. It was a deficit that the Mountaineers couldn’t come back from. Despite adding three more scores, WVU watched TCU add as many, and then tack an additional field goal on top. It was a back and forth battle until the end, but WVU ended up falling 31-24. TCU took the series lead 4-3, but haven’t won since.

Between 2018 and 2020, the Mountaineers have downed the Horned Frogs in three straight games, nabbing two home and one road victory. When the two met in 2018, WVU was ranked No. 7. On the back of a 24-point second quarter, the Mountaineers, lead by quarterback Will Grier, steam-rolled TCU 47-10 in front of a sold-out Mountaineer Field crowd. On 25 completions, Grier threw three touchdowns good for on 343 yards. At the conclusion of the game, TCU head coach Gary Patterson had his team stand silently on the field and watch as a sold-out Milan Puskar Stadium sang Country Roads. Brutal.

2019 was, luckily, no different. Brown’s Mountaineer team strolled into Fort Worth for the season’s final game and snatched it from Patterson’s grasp. At the time, TCU was a double-digit favorite, but WVU made quick work of that. The two went into halftime tied at 10, but the excitement hit a peak in the fourth quarter. With WVU’s Jarret Doege at the helm, the West Virginia offense worked its way down the field in the third quarter, but an Evan Staley field goal had to suffice. Entering the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers were down 17-13. It would stay just out of the Mountaineers’ reach until 2:10 remained in regulation. Doege hit Isaiah Esdale down the field for a 35-yard touchdown pass to win WVU its second straight, 20-17, against the Horned Frogs in stunning fashion.

Back home last season, the Mountaineer faithful had little to worry about when Week 8 rolled around. WVU held Patterson’s team to two bookend scoreless quarters, allowing only two field goals. The WVU offense pounded the Horned Frogs, finding the end zone in three of four quarters. A Casey Legg 42-yard field goal was the Mountaineers’ sole score in the third quarter, but it proved more than enough to secure the win 24-6. This win propelled WVU to 6-4 in the series and 3-2 at home.

The latter stat won’t matter this Saturday, though, when Brown and the Mountaineers travel back to Fort Worth, where the series is tied at two, for the eleventh showing of the match-up. Oct. 23 kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPNU.

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