WVU claims Liberty Bowl win with late surge
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Going into a still-muddled off-season with more questions than solid answers about what the COVID-19 Pandemic has in mind for college athletics, West Virginia’s football team can smile about its fourth-quarter, 24-21, win over Army in the just-completed Liberty Bowl.
The horizon is still clouded with concern about the coronavirus and the effect it will have on the future of college life, off-season conditioning, summer plans, fall practices and the 2021 schedule. But even with all the conjecture and speculation ahead, carrying a 6-4 overall record and a stirring win in the season’s final game is light years tastier than toting a loss on top of all the never-ending changes and problems seen in the just-ended 10-game season.
No need to overanalyze what happened in the Army game. Mostly, just enjoy it and don’t gasp for breath or take wobbly knees into the new year.
Trailing, 21-10, and then scoring the game’s last 14 points against a team praised for its discipline and conditioning is a feather in WVU’s cap, no matter how it was accomplished.
The jumbled bowl season saw teams like South Carolina (2-8 regular season record), Tennessee (3-7 regular season record), Houston (3-4 regular season record) and Ole Miss (4-5 regular season record) selected to participate in a bowl game. Tennessee had to opt out of the Liberty Bowl when the team had problems with the virus.
If the virus loosens its control over most of life by the summer, then West Virginia has a football schedule on paper it can play.
On Sept. 4, the Mountaineers are slated to meet Maryland in College Park. The next Saturday, the Long Island University Sharks are supposed to visit Morgantown. Long Island University is a combined union of LIU-Brooklyn and Post, which is a member of the Northeast Conference.
West Virginia’s third and last non-conference game is slated to be in Morgantown on Sept. 18 against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
In addition to the three non-conference games, the Mountaineers have home dates against Oklahoma State, Texas, Iowa State and Texas Tech. To be played on the road in the conference are TCU, Baylor, Kansas State, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Because of the ragged and tattered happenings throughout the months of the 2020 season, the NCAA has offered every player another year of eligibility. There are yet any firm numbers or names of WVU senior players who will take advantage of the one-time waiver, but reports have surfaced that only a few athletes might return from the 2020 senior class.
It seems only appropriate that speculation is rampant about the immediate future of what college football will hold.
But for now, West Virginia has finished on a winning, high note and can mostly forget the debacle at Iowa State (a 42-6 loss) in its last regular season game.