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Don't stumble, Mountaineers

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So WVU is having a good season and hasn't lost its QB to injury late in the year, plus they've come back on fire since a loss to Iowa State, a team that can no longer be underestimated with Purdy getting the snaps. Good for Iowa State. They deserve a star player and a shot at something better than where they usually end up. But did Oklahoma State give all its emotional energy trying to spoil its cross-state rival, or are they still pumped enough to make a serious spoiler run at the Mountaineers?

Even of the Eers win today, they have yet to beat Oklahoma. I don't care so much if they go to the playoffs (they won't win a national title this year), but to finally beat OK - at home - and grab a conference title to boot would be a great season. It's still less fun watching WVU play teams far from its own region, but a conference title run and top 10 finish is still a great way to end the year.

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Just to round out the top 10.

8. West Virginia Mountaineers
Toughest remaining game:
 Nov. 23 vs. Oklahoma (48.2 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 11 percent
Chance to win it all: 0.8 percent
Best-case scenario: Finish as a one-loss Big 12 champ with back-to-back victories over OU and hope for an upset in the Big Ten championship game. If Oklahoma, West Virginia AND Texas all win Saturday, the Mountaineers could clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game. The Mountaineers' defense has been better than Oklahoma's, and WVU won in Austin and in Lubbock. Don't forget a nonconference Power 5 win over Tennessee. If West Virginia can beat Oklahoma State on the road Saturday and then end the regular season with a top-10 win over OU, it's time to start taking the Mountaineers seriously in this conversation. In order to eliminate a debate against the Big Ten champ, it would help West Virginia exponentially if Northwestern won.

Worst-case scenario: Finish the season with a home loss to OU.

9. Washington State Cougars
Toughest remaining game:
 Nov. 23 vs. Washington (46.9 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 1.9 percent
Chance to win it all: 0.1 percent
Best-case scenario: The Cougars win out and beat three-loss, No. 19 Utah (not four-loss, unranked ASU) in the Pac-12 championship game Nov. 30 ... and then benefit from a boatload of chaos. There would have to be some sort of combination of the following: The Big 12 champ finishes with two losses, Notre Dame loses, and there is an upset in either the ACC or Big Ten championship games (or both).

Worst-case scenario: Wazzu loses the Apple Cup, and the Pac-12 champ has at least three losses. That would easily eliminate the league entirely.

99.png&w=110&h=110 10. LSU Tigers
Toughest remaining game:
 Nov. 24 at Texas A&M (42.7 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 1.1 percent
Chance to win it all: 0.1 percent
Best-case scenario: All of the angst over LSU's place in the ranking the past two weeks in spite of its two losses is likely for naught, as LSU would need sheer madness to get back into the conversation. Getting into the playoff as a two-loss conference champion is difficult enough, but getting in as a two-loss team that didn't even win its division? First, Georgia would have to lose to Georgia Tech, but then turn around and beat Alabama (you'd have a two-loss SEC champ that LSU would have defeated). Even that scenario doesn't guarantee anything, considering how Alabama manhandled LSU, 29-0 on Nov. 3. So ... add to that ... Notre Dame loses, Northwestern wins the Big Ten, Pitt wins the ACC, Utah or Arizona State could win the Pac-12. Pick your poison, but there would have to be at least two major upsets.

Worst-case scenario: LSU ends the season with a loss to the Aggies.


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