The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 12, 2012

WVU predicted to play in Alamo Bowl

MORGANTOWN — Long before this season started, the newspaper in Oklahoma City looked into its crystal ball and proclaimed this Saturday’s 7 p.m. meeting between Oklahoma and West Virginia as the marquee matchup of the Big 12 season.

Hope that crystal ball has a warranty.

Oklahoma has kept its end up, dropping only a narrow decision to Kansas State in conference and a non-conference meeting with Notre Dame. There is no disgrace in losing to the nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 teams.

On the other hand, West Virginia finds itself mired in a dismal four-game losing streak following Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma State, 55-34, slipping off the national radar after having climbed as high as No. 4 in the nation, taking most of the luster off this matchup and the head-to-head quarterback showdown that everyone was awaiting between WVU’s Geno Smith and the Sooners’ Landry Jones.

The two have combined for 3,792 yards and 49 touchdowns this year, the statistics weighted heavily in Geno Smith’s favor.

The last two games played between these two teams have been crucial battles for West Virginia, each a victory, and this one is not much different, for once again the direction the Mountaineers will take is tied to this contest.

To begin with, there remains only three regular-season games — Oklahoma, at Iowa State and Kansas — and while one would think the Mountaineers should be highly favored over Iowa State and Kansas, there are no certainties of anything the way this team has played.

WVU needs one more victory to become bowl eligible, and we’re not talking about BCS bowls.

Jerry Palm, an expert in such matters, has just come out with his bowl projections, and he has WVU doing not badly at all for itself by going to the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio, but he may be thinking the Mountaineers are going to win two more games to match themselves against USC.

In all, he has eight Big 12 teams in bowls, only Baylor and Kansas left out.

Here are his projections:

• Kansas State and Oregon meeting in the national championship game.

• Oklahoma and LSU meeting in the Fiesta Bowl.

• Texas and Texas A&M re-establishing their rivalry in the Cotton Bowl.

• WVU and USC in the Alamo Bowl.

• TCU and Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium.

• Oklahoma State and Northwestern in Buffalo Wild Things Bowl.

• Iowa State and Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

• Texas Tech and Oregon State in the Holiday Bowl.

However, if WVU could beat Oklahoma and then win out, ending the regular season at 8-4 with a win over the Sooners, they could re-establish themselves as a national player and have something to carry over into next season.

It isn’t crazy to think the Mountaineers might, as bad as they have played, for the last two meetings with the Sooners have been epic.

In 1982, Don Nehlen was just beginning to establish West Virginia as a national player, having upset Florida in the 1981 Peach Bowl. But a trip to Oklahoma loomed to open the next season, and the Sooners were confident and favored.

The Mountaineers won, 41-27, avenging an embarrassing 52-10 beating given Frank Cignetti’s team in 1978, the team that set the school record for most points allowed in a season at 364 until this year’s team broke it in that Oklahoma State loss.

“In that 1978 game,” Nehlen once recalled, “Oklahoma’s starters didn’t even wear their shoulder pads the second half. They were on the sidelines and spent the whole half signing autographs and shaking hands with fans.”

Nehlen had other ideas.

“I didn’t plan on taking my team out there and killing those horses (pulling the Sooner Schooner after each TD); we planned on giving them plenty of rest,” he added.

They did as Jeff Hostetler took the Sooners apart on a 100-degree day.

The more recent game, of course, was one of the most important in WVU history, the game where Bill Stewart took over for Rich Rodriguez, who had left for Michigan after being upset by Pitt in the season’s final game to cost him a shot at the national championship.

WVU’s program could have spiraled out of control downward following that loss, beginning with being thrashed by the Sooners in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, but the team rallied around Stewart and pulled off a stunning upset, 48-28.

Now there is another WVU coach trying to establish himself at Oklahoma’s expense, just as Nehlen and Stewart did, in a game that could turn the season back around.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 23, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.

    July 23, 2014

  • WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting

    West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
    Both teams will receive $2.5 million for the game and have a chance to earn up to $3.2 million with ticket incentives.
    Each team will buy 12,500 tickets and set aside 2,000 of its allotment for students.
    The game, played on the home field of the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, is being put on by the Charlotte Sports Federation.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Fleming, Billy.jpg WVU’s Fleming signs contract with Yankees

     Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
    “Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Fleming said. “It is still surreal that I get to chase my dream, but I am ready to get after it. I loved my three years at WVU and want to thank all the coaches that made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Growing demands on college athletes concerns Wyant

    Fred Wyant, one of the greatest quarterbacks in West Virginia University’s history, has lashed out at today’s growing demands on college athletes.
    The 80-year-old Star City resident led the Mountaineers to a 30-4 record as the starter from 1952-1955. Percentage-wise, it’s clearly the best-ever record by a QB in school annals.
    Wyant, a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, came here after graduating with honors from Weston High School. That’s where WVU coach Art “Pappy” Lewis signed him to a four-year scholarship.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 22, 2014

  • Growing demands on college athletes concerns Wyant

    Fred Wyant, one of the greatest quarterbacks in West Virginia University’s history, has lashed out at today’s growing demands on college athletes.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVU’s Fleming signs with Yankees

    Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.

    July 22, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos