With four games remaining games on its schedule, the West Virginia football team is quickly running out of time to reach bowl eligibility.
At 3-5 (1-4 in Big 12 Conference play), the Mountaineers need three more wins to qualify for a postseason bowl game and bring their record to 6-6. West Virginia hasn’t failed to make a bowl game since 2001, when the team finished 3-8 under Rich Rodriguez.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers are in very unfamiliar territory, as Holgorsen himself has never coached a team that failed to reach a bowl game as an assistant, offensive coordinator or head coach.
The Mountaineers won the Orange Bowl in 2011 and lost in the Pinstripe Bowl to Syracuse in 2012.
“We’re not doing a good job offensively. We’re not scoring, we’re not finishing drives, we’re missing blocks, we’re not making people miss in the
open (field) and we’re not catching the ball down the field,” Holgorsen said. “I mean, (the fans) see it, (and) it keeps me up at night.
“We’re not playing winning offensive football ... does it look better at times? Yes. Is it good enough to win a Big 12 football game? Absolutely not.”
While Holgorsen said he and staff realize the team’s flaws, the clock is ticking to fix those issues.
Winning three of the next four games will be tough, especially considering every opponent is from the Big 12. But two of those games are against Kansas and Iowa State, both of whom rank dead last in conference play at 0-4.
From there – assuming those games can bring their win total to five – it becomes tougher to figure out.
For most of this season, it’s been pretty obvious that Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech have been in the upper echelon of the Big 12. Behind them are West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, TCU, Iowa State and Kansas – teams that have shown flashes of promise at times but lack consistent talent to compete with the four aforementioned teams.
A win against Kansas State could’ve been a huge confidence boost, especially on the road. While the Mountaineers hung around for a while, Kansas State eventually chipped away before going for the kill with a late score that put WVU away.
That pretty much sums up the season; this young, inexperienced and uncertain team hasn’t shown the ability to finish games in the Big 12, and it’s closing their small window of opportunity for postseason success.
The same questions at the beginning of the season remain unanswered in week 9. The Mountaineers have no identity at quarterback, lack a playmaker at wide receiver, and their defense, while improving consistently, has problems getting other teams off the field on third downs.
The Mountaineers take on TCU in Fort Worth, Texas Saturday. West Virginia is 4-6 in their last 10 road games and 2-5 in Big 12 road games. The Horned Frogs are 3-5 on the season and 3-2 at home.
From there, the Texas Longhorns come to Morgantown the weekend of Nov. 9 before the Mountaineers finish the season with their two most winnable games.
It’s do or die time for the Mountaineers.