Mountaineers say ‘Let’s go bowling’
A 7-5 record like West Virginia has is going to prove far better than the 6-6 record so many other bowl-eligible teams have as their credentials to postseason happiness.
With no fewer than 38 bowl games coming before the January 12 national championship game there were 76 teams needed that could boast of at least the 6-6 records needed to qualify for a bowl. The bowl sponsors and lime green blazers of some bowl representatives can finally relax. Some 83 teams had 6-6 records or better. However, 15 of those 83 teams could produce only the qualifying 6-6 records and some of them will be left by the fireside eating mince pie and roasting chestnuts instead of going to Detroit or New York City for a bowl game.
West Virginia eased past Iowa State last Saturday in Ames to move its final record to 7-5 and a tie with Texas for fifth place in the Big 12 Conference standings. Both the Mountaineers and Texas had 5-4 records in the league.
One of the Big 12 teams — either TCU or Baylor — is likely to land in the Final Four rankings that will be unveiled . . . with all the other bowls falling in line with their staggered selections. The top four teams go to the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl for the national semifinals.
Then come the pairings for the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange and Peach (Chick-fil-A) bowls.
After probably supplying one of the Final Four teams, the Big 12 has six other bowls that have contracts to take its teams. But the conference has only a total of six teams with at least a 6-6 record. Oklahoma State is 5-6 and needs to defeat arch rival Oklahoma on Saturday to be bowl eligible.
The official bowl pairings can’t be announced until after the Dec. 6 games are all finalized. Several conference championship games have a significant bearing on the bowl matchups as well.
West Virginia’s name is being bandied about in several corners.
Most of the conjecture as to where the Mountaineers will land has centered on the Dec. 29 Liberty Bowl in Memphis and the Dec. 29 Texas Bowl in Houston. Both those bowls would have the Mountaineers playing a Southeastern Conference opponent.
The likely opponents the seers of the future say would be either LSU or Arkansas.
The other bowls with Big 12 contracts are the Russell Athletic Bowl played in Orlando on Dec. 29, the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth on Jan. 2, the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Jan, 2 and the Cactus Bowl in Tempe, Arizona on Jan. 2.
At least West Virginia will not be going to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York like it did two years ago when a raw late afternoon of snow, rain and a near-quagmire of a field at Yankee Stadium greeted the Mountaineers and game-winning Syracuse.