Big 12's best losses in 2013: West Virginia

Over the next two weeks, we’ll continue to close the door on the 2013 season. Every Big 12 team suffered at least one loss during the regular season and losses can be as beneficial as wins. In this team-by-team series, we’ll take a look at the best loss of 2013 for each Big 12 team, including what happened and why it matters.

On Tuesday, we focus on West Virginia.

Best loss: 37-0 loss to Maryland on Sept. 21 in a shocking result that left WVU coach Dana Holgorsen looking for answers.

What happened: The Mountaineers got dominated, embarrassed, overwhelmed and exposed in the blowout loss to the rival Terrapins. On a rainy day in Baltimore, the WVU offense could never get anything going, finishing with just six total first downs, 175 yards and gaining 3.74 yards per play.

It was easily one of the worst offensive performances by a Big 12 team this past season.

WVU quarterback Ford Childress’ 3.3 Raw QBR was among the 20 worst single-game QBR ratings by an FBS quarterback in 2013. He finished 11 of 22 for 62 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

Why it was helpful: The embarrassing loss sparked Holgorsen’s decision to turn to Clint Trickett at quarterback after a September full of unrest at the position. Trickett rewarded Holgorsen by leading the Mountaineers to a 30-21 upset win over Oklahoma State the following week, giving WVU its best win of the season.

Trickett went on to be the Mountaineers’ starter and WVU scored at least 20 points in each of his starts with the exception of its 35-12 loss at Kansas State. WVU averaged 1.6 points per drive and scored 30.9 percent of the time with Trickett under center in Big 12 play. By comparison, the Mountaineers averaged 1.48 points per drive and scored 22.9 percent of the time without Trickett taking the snaps during in Big 12 play.

Trickett was far from perfect, but he was the most productive quarterback on the roster in 2013 and the Maryland loss gave him the opportunity to lock down the starting quarterback spot.

Revealing stat: WVU averaged 6.95 yards per play in conference games with Trickett at quarterback. The Mountaineers averaged more than half a yard less (6.21) without Trickett under center.

Quote of note: “I just told the guys that you need to look in the mirror. That’s what I’m going to do. Obviously, what I’m doing offensively is not working. We will do whatever we have to do to fix it, and we need everybody in that room to do the same thing; coaches and players.” — Holgorsen after the loss.