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Premature bowl scenarios

Wow, the landscape sure has changed in the past two weeks, yes? Consider that since then-No. 5 West Virginia lost at South Florida and purportedly lost every one of its hopes and dreams, a lot happened:

In the 24 hours following the loss, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Texas, Oregon and Florida all lost. At home. Oklahoma, Texas and Florida would have remained in front of WVU and added to their cushions and Rutgers and Oregon would have leaped ahead of WVU. As it was, WVU dropped to No. 13 and remained behind, and in some cases well-behind, the other losers, which, in all honesty, seemed unfair since this was an eight-point loss on the road with a chance to tie the game late against a team that is now No. 5.

In retrospect, while coaches say polls do not matter, they do because had the Mountaineers been given even a little bit more credit in defeat, they’d be a tad higher with much firmer standing than they currently enjoy. Still, for WVU, this is a much more promising outlook than most could have imagined.

This past weekend only helped prove the point.

Kentucky, Wisconsin, Georgia, Florida and Southern California, teams ranked above WVU, all lost. The Mountaineers are now No. 8 and while they don’t control their own destiny, they do control the ability to reach a lot of the things that seemed to escape from their grasp that one bad night in Tampa, Fla.

National title: Still a long, long, long, long, long shot (trying not to use the word impossibility, not because it doesn’t exist, but because the past two weeks have been too crazy to say anything can’t  happen). WVU has almost too much to overcome. For example, Oklahoma and USC are still ranked higher despite bad losses.

Big East title: Absolutely can happen, but South Florida has to lose and WVU cannot lose. Of course, any scenario that involves WVU and other Big East teams finishing with the same amount of losses leads to a conference title, too. 

BCS bowl: South Florida holds the biggest chip because it beat WVU. If USF goes unbeaten in Big East play, it’s the conference champion and gets into the BCS. If only USF and WVU finish with one Big East loss, USF gets the BCS game because of the head-to-head win. However, if USF, WVU and one or more other teams finish with one loss, it goes to the colvoluted tie-breakers, which WVU could win. If every tied team in the “mini-conference” had a win and a loss against one another, the tie-breaker is the BCS ranking.

Of course, even if USF wins the Big East unbeaten and WVU wins out and finishes with just the one loss, there’s a strong possibility the BCS would select WVU as an at-large team. The Mountaineers will probably debut in the BCS poll next week in the 8-12 range. The top 14 are eligible for an at-large bid. If WVU continued to win, it’d certainly be high enough to get one of the four at-large invitations. A spot in the top six is guaranteed an invitation.

Other bowls:  The Big East’s bowl tie-ins are listed here. The most likely scenario outside of the BCS is the Sun Bowl, Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas. The Gator Bowl is almost definitely out. That bowl has an agreement with the Big 12 and the Big East/Notre Dame where it must take teams from each side twice in four years. Last season, it took WVU, meaning if it takes a Big East team (WVU or anyone else) it cannot have another Big East team or, more importantly, Notre Dame the next two years. So pencil in a Big 12 team there and and a Big East team in El Paso because that bowl has to take a team from whatever side the Gator Bowl declined.