A quick note about the 2016 football season: It’s really exceeded expectations, hasn’t it? West Virginia finished 16th in the College Football Playoff ranking, which we’ll get to, as well as 14th in the media poll and 12th in the coaches poll. The Mountaineers didn’t get a vote in the preseason polls. Teams that did? Miami, Texas A&M, Washington State, San Diego State, Arkansas, Texas, Northwestern, South Florida, Toledo, Mississippi State, BYU, Appalachian State, Duke, Arizona, Marshall, Northern Illinois, Memphis and Indiana. None of them are ranked.
WVU tied for second place in the Big 12 standings with Oklahoma State. The conference coaches slotted the Mountaineers into seventh place in the preseason poll. Dana Holgorsen could win Big 12 coach of the year and Rasul Douglas could win defensive player of the year.
“Family,” said receiver Daikiel Shorts. “That’s the one word for this team: family. Everybody hangs out together outside of football. We put a lot of work in this off-season and one of our main mottos was ‘12-3-16.’ What team will we be on that date? And here we are sitting at 10-2 and ready to go to a pretty good bowl.”
“We’re gritty,” said defensive tackle Darrien Howard. “We fight until the end. That’s why I love my team. We fight until the very last whistle. We do what it takes to try and get the win. That’s what we do. That’s our identity. We fight.
“I’ve been telling myself for the past 10 months we can do something great. When we started the season, I started to see how everything was clicking, how we were on the same page and how well we communicated. I saw we could do something special.”
And the Mountaineers are feeling it. Following the game Saturday, Dana Holgorsen, with a new contract in his pocket, chose that occasion to speak out and reveal a level of bewilderment that his team was not more highly thought of or, you know, considered for one of the New Year’s Six games. Miami, the opponent in the Russell Athletic Bowl, will be the sixth of 13 opponents with a current winning record. The 10 teams the Mountaineers beat are 54-67. So they’ve got a little work left to do and one more chance to proove themselves.
The Mountaineers held nine of 12 opponents to 21 points or less but also scored 26 or fewer points six times.
“Somehow the committee doesn’t like us, because somehow we win ugly,” said Holgorsen, who is 46-30 as WVU’s coach. “That’s my opinion. I’ll probably get in trouble for it. Somebody won’t like it. I don’t care. I don’t understand how you can have two-loss teams that have bad losses and how you can have three-loss teams that have bad losses (ahead of WVU) yet we have two losses, both to top-10 teams. I don’t get it.”
The Russell Athletic had the third pick from the ACC. Clemson, which won the conference championship game, went to the CFP and the Fiesta Bowl. The Orange then picked first and selected No. 10 Florida State and the Citrus then took No. 15 Louisville. The Russell Athletic was able to choose from anyone else, including a few of WVU’s former Big East rivals like No. 22 Pitt and No. 18 Virginia Tech.
The Panthers are headed to the Pinstripe Bowl. The Hokies, who lost to Clemson in the ACC title game in Orlando and who open the 2017 season against the Mountaineers, will play in the Belk Bowl.
The Mountaineers nevertheless have an old Big East nemesis in the Hurricanes. This will be the 20th matchup, and Miami leads the series, dormant since 2003, 16-3.
“We’ll be down there in droves, I can assure you of that,” Holgorsen said. “If this hasn’t rekindled it, it will pretty quickly. I know it’s going to be fantastic for the bowl game and what it’s all about to have a matchup like this where everyone can be excited about it. This one won’t let anybody down.”
I’m talking about money and the power, power and the money. This text is magic, Stan Van Gundy. My edits are in [brackets].
Sincerely hope a surprise switch to the throwback helmets is in the works. Haven’t seen them once this year despite the 125th anniversary.
Mario’s Cowboy Wings are the best wings in the world!!!!
Gonna throw beer cans and boo Skyler, hopefully will break Geno’s 8 TDs in a game record
There goes Marvin Gross again with his Harry Potter magic! Poof…he appears!
Im probably alone on this, but I don’t see how he loses the ball like that without the ball hitting the ground at some point.
Durante…you gotta catch that bro.
This senior tribute video is very Wilson Phillips 1990. #Corny
Kick the field goal, [amigo].
Oh no…that looked like Bad Skyler. Please leave him at home!
[Old] [Josh] Lambert would have made that
50 yards? Molina? Come on, son. No.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would boo Skyler Howard.