No Big 12 title for WVU; bowl game still in view
MORGANTOWN – The initial round of Big 12 Conference championship games won’t involve West Virginia, but there are plenty of warm weather bowl destinations for the league’s teams.
At 3-2 in the league West Virginia trails Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU – all with 4-1 conference records.
West Virginia’s overall record of 5-3 leaves the Mountaineers still needing another win to qualify for a bowl game.
The remaining schedule has Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma to be played.
Bowl agreements with the Big 12 involve the league providing teams to the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26 in Dallas against a Big 10 opponent, the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 26 in Phoenix against a Pac-12 team, the Camping World Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 27 against a team from the ACC, the Texas Bowl in Houston on Dec. 27 against an opponent from the SEC, the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Dec. 28 against a Pac-12 school and the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30 in Memphis against a team from the SEC.
Should there be a shortage of teams with at least six wins for other bowls then a Mountaineer team with six wins could be called on to play in another bowl. In the past several seasons there have been a number of teams with 5-7 records that went to bowls.
West Virginia’s last four games are with teams with these current records – Oklahoma is 7-1, Iowa State is 6-2, Texas is 4-4 and Kansas State is also 4-4.
The conference champion will be decided in the first-ever Big 12 Conference championship game. That team could be selected to play in the four-school national semifinals or it could find itself in another College Football Playoff bowl not among the two bowls where the semifinals will take place.
The first priority for the Mountaineers should be winning a sixth game, and all their future opponents are markedly better than either Baylor or Kansas, two of the three conference teams West Virginia has wins against.
None of the six bowl destinations the Big 12 has secured for its members is in a cold weather state, with a night game in Memphis being the worst possible weather scenario of the six locales now scheduled.
All of the six bowls have an opponent from a so-called Power 5 conference with two bowls hosting SEC teams, two more inviting Pac-12 opponents and then the ACC and Big 10 each supplying one team.
Resurgent Iowa State is this week’s opponent and the Cyclones have already tamed Oklahoma, TCU, and Texas Tech. Last week, they dealt the Horned Frogs their first loss of the season in a frenzied atmosphere in Ames.
Texas and Kansas State could be playing for their bowl lives when each of them faces the Mountaineers.
A bowl date is within reach – within sight – and attainable. But it is not a given.