Doc 5: Top five late-season collapses -- No. 2 West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 3: Head coach Dana Holgorsen of the West Virginia Mountaineers yells against the TCU Horned Frogs at Mountaineer Field on November 3, 2012 in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

With the calendar turning over to May this week, we’re only four months away from the start of the 2014 college football season.

Since May Day is not really celebrated much these days, we turned our focus for this week’s Doc Five toward “mayday,” you know, the distress signal used on boats in emergency situations.

How does that apply to college football?

It doesn’t exactly, but it got us thinking about teams over the past 15 seasons who have got off to fast starts but collapsed down the stretch and needed to signal in a mayday.


No. 2 – 2012 West Virginia

West Virginia’s first season in the Big 12 was supposed to be a special one. Dana Holgorsen’s squad was coming off a Big East championship and an impressive victory in the Orange Bowl, but the Big 12 proved to be a tough adjustment for the Mountaineers.

With a preseason No. 11 rank, things started off relatively well for the Mountaineers as they breezed past Marshall, James Madison and Maryland in the non-conference slate. Out to make a statement that its high-powered offense was no joke in Week 4, West Virginia put up 70 points and 807 yards of total offense (Geno Smith threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns) in a win over Baylor in the conference opener. Unfortunately, the other side of the ball surrendered 63 points and 700 yards, which ended up being a sign of things to come.

The eighth-ranked Mountaineers continued its hot streak the following week in its first road game of the season – a raucous crowd of 101,851 at Texas. Behind four touchdown passes from Geno Smith, 10 catches and 102 yards from Tavon Austin and 207 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Andrew Buie, the Mountaineers prevailed over the No. 11 Longhorns 48-45.

WVU quickly ascended to No. 5 in the polls, but came crashing back down to earth quickly. The Mountaineers’ porous defense was on display the next week in a 49-14 beatdown at the hands of Texas Tech. TTU senior quarterback Seth Doege had the game of his life, connecting with 11 different receivers en route to 499 passing yards and six touchdowns.

The loss dropped WVU 12 spots to No. 17 in the polls when they faced their toughest task yet in Week 7 against No. 4 Kansas State. Again, the defense was just awful, but the offense was just as bad this week. Save for a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown by Tavon Austin and a late Austin TD catch, the Mountaineer offense was shut out. Meanwhile, behind seven combined touchdowns (four rushing, three passing) from Collin Klein, Kansas State effortlessly put up 55 points in blowout win.

West Virginia’s trudge through the Big 12’s best continued with a brutal two-overtime home loss to fellow Big 12 newcomer TCU the next week and two more losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. In those three defeats, the offense managed to find its stride a bit, but the defense gave up a combined 144 points.

No matter how good the WVU offense proved to be, it could not overcome the utter incompetence of the defense.

Holgorsen’s team managed to squelch its brutal five-game losing streak with back-to-back regular season-ending wins over Iowa State and Kansas. Those wins salvaged the team’s bowl hopes and earned them an invitation to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, a far cry from the BCS hopes that were realistic a few months earlier.

In a steady snowstorm, West Virginia’s defense proved it was equally inept at stopping the run in a fittingly brutal 38-14 loss to end the year at 7-6 and eighth in the conference.

This collapse could probably be considered more of the mid-season variety, but it still must have been rough for WVU fans. Really rough.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!