No. 23 West Virginia’s (6-3, 4-2) win over then-No. 15 Iowa State Saturday evening accomplished a couple of things.
It arguably kept the Mountaineer season on the rails. It officially made WVU bowl eligible for this season. And it kept West Virginia alive in the chase to play in the Big 12 Championship game.
Although it’s a slim chance that you’ll see the Old Gold and Blue playing in “Jerry World” on Dec. 2, it’s still a possibility as we enter the final three weeks of the season.
A number of things need to go the Mountaineers’ way for it to happen, and it all starts in house.
The first part of the path is simple: WVU needs to win out. That means defeating Texas at home in two weeks and doing two things West Virginia has not done since entering the Big 12 – winning at Kansas State and winning at Oklahoma.
In the meantime, WVU will need some help.
The Mountaineers don’t own the tiebreaker against either TCU or Oklahoma State, but now obviously do against the Cyclones, and will need to against Oklahoma to play in the Big 12 title game.
West Virginia will also need the Sooners to lose at least one more game, the more likely option being this weekend against TCU. The Horned Frogs can’t provide much help other than beating Oklahoma, though that’s a tall enough task on its own given the game’s in Norman.
Oklahoma State’s loss in Bedlam helped some, but Gundy and company will have to go the extra mile to help the Mountaineers. That means losing this week in Ames – something that isn’t out of the question given previous meetings between the two, and the season that the Cyclones are having.
WVU also needs the Cowboys to fall to Kansas State or Kansas in the final two weeks of the season.
All of those outcomes would put Gary Patterson’s squad as the top team in the conference at 11-1, 8-1. West Virginia would then follow with a 9-3 overall record – the same as Oklahoma – but the Week 13 win in Norman gives the Mountaineers the better conference record (7-2 as opposed to 6-3) and the tiebreaker for good measure.
OU would then finish fourth behind Iowa State, meaning Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, and others sit at home, while Kenny Hill and Will Grier duel it out in AT&T Stadium.
Despite being a virtual home game for TCU, Mountaineer fans should want to see the Horned Frogs in the title game more so than other conference foes for a few reasons. Had WVU not gotten in its own way when the two teams played earlier this year, WVU may very well have won the meeting in Fort Worth. Not only that, but TCU’s offense is the least explosive of the teams atop the Big 12.
Also, much like how during basketball season it’s extremely tough to beat the same team three times, it’s tough during football season to beat the same opponent twice. That means OU comes back with a vengeance against the Mountaineers if that would be the title game, or WVU is the one getting payback against the Horned Frogs.
It’s a small chance, but there’s still a chance that West Virginia can play for the Big 12 title. A lot of things need to go the Mountaineers way, but as crazy as the Big 12, and college football in general, has been this year, it can’t be overlooked.