West Virginia in desperate hunt for road wins

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At this point, the facts are pretty simple. For West Virginia to reach six victories and earn bowl eligibility this season, the Mountaineers will have to learn how to win on the road.

It's a reality that West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen admitted is "sneaking up on us." The Mountaineers are winless in four road trips this fall, have been outscored, 161-61, in those games and have lost five of their past six Big 12 road games.

Scouting report

Matchup: West Virginia (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) vs. TCU (3-5, 1-4), 3:30 p.m. today, Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. TCU favored by 121/2.

TV, Radio, Internet: ESPNU, Mountaineer Sports Network, Sirius 134, XM 191.

West Virginia: QB Clint Trickett is expected to make his fifth start this season. ... Has registered 20 plays longer than 30 yards, which ranks 30th in Division I. ... Only two teams have recovered more fumbles than the Mountaineers (11).

TCU: Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin are expected to split time at quarterback. ... Only six defenses in Division I have forced more turnovers than TCU (21). ... Coach Gary Patterson has lost six games only three times in 13 seasons in Fort Worth.

Hidden stat: West Virginia has been outscored by a combined 35-0 in the fourth quarter of the past two games, losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State.

Today, West Virginia (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) will again try to shrug the road monkey off its back when it visits TCU (3-5, 1-4) at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

"I feel like we have a lot to play for," Holgorsen said. "What we do matters.

"We have an obligation to get out there, practice hard and put our best foot forward on Saturday."

After starting the season 3-2, West Virginia has lost three games in a row, the past two in particularly painful fashion as the Mountaineers held late third-quarter leads before losing by lopsided, double-digit margins.

"We haven't finished well the past two weeks, but we've been competitive," Holgorsen said. "It's not a moral victory to say we were in the game in the fourth quarter the past two weeks -- that's not my point. We are battling, but it's not a winning effort."

In TCU, West Virginia faces a team with an identical record and similar struggles on offense.

Both teams rank among the 30 lowest-scoring Division I-A teams and are ahead of only Kansas in the Big 12, with the Horned Frogs averaging 23.0 points per game and the Mountaineers 22.9.

TCU is the lone team in the Big 12 averaging less than 130 rushing yards and 200 passing yards per game.

"[The Horned Frogs] have been in every game, and they've had the chances to win the games, but they have just been losing," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "We are similar teams, but, offensively, we need to score more points in order to win. We can't score 12 points and beat many people."

TCU lost at home to Texas, 30-7, last Saturday, but senior quarterback Casey Pachall returned. Pachall had been sidelined for six weeks with a broken non-throwing arm and was spelled by sophomore Trevone Boykin.

Pachall wasn't particularly effective upon his return, completing 13 of 34 passes for 139 yards and an interception. The only touchdown of the day came on a 38-yard pass thrown by wide receiver Cameron Echols-Luper.

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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