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Mediocre Schedule Continues To Doom Mountaineers In Playoff Rankings

The committee does not view West Virginia favorably, continuing to rank teams with more losses ahead of the Mountaineers.

NCAA Football: Kansas State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The West Virginia Mountaineers, after beating Texas 24-20 on Saturday, moved up two spots to number 14 in the latest playoff rankings. The Mountaineers were 16th last week and ranked below 9 two-loss teams. This week WVU finds itself ranked behind three loss USC.

The Mountaineers have attempted to schedule Power 5 teams with clout during the playoff era. In 2014, the Mountaineers scheduled Alabama as its opening day game. Last year, West Virginia had Georgia Southern and Maryland. This year the Mountaineers scheduled Missouri and BYU. Missour was a back-to-back SEC East champ in 2013 & 2014. As the Tigers have fallen on harder times, that game does not hold any meaning this year.

BYU on the other hand, were scheduled with Bronco Mendenhall as their head coach. Bronco turned BYU into a consistent 9+ win team during his tenure at BYU. Bronco left at the end of last season and BYU is currently a 5-4 team.

The Big 12 is doing West Virginia no favors. Last year, the Mountaineers famously played 4 straight ranked teams, three of them on the road. This year, WVU has not played a single ranked team. Oklahoma State did not get a number in front of its name until after beating WVU.

Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, there is still unfair bias being also applied. Colorado is a perfect example of this. The Buffs are 8-2, ranked #10 in the latest playoff rankings. They’ve beaten ONE team above .500. The Buffaloes beat Stanford 10-5. The two other teams they have played who are above .500, USC and Michigan, have beaten Colorado 21-17 and 45-28. So why is WVU ranked behind a team with one win over a .500 team and more losses?

What about the Nittany Lions? Penn State is buoyed by their dramatic win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions are fruitfully enjoying a season where they gained a tremendous advantage by playing a very easy Big Ten schedule. While PSU has to play Michigan and Ohio State, they have avoided both Nebraska and Wisconsin in the Big Ten West, instead playing Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue. Penn State owns a much worse loss (42-39 to 6-4 Pitt) and a much better win (24-21 over OSU) than anything West Virginia has. Should West Virginia and Penn State win out, both would have wins over a top ten school, (OSU and Oklahoma), a top-15 blowout (Michigan and Oklahoma State) but WVU would not have that mediocre loss to Pitt hanging over its head.

As I said above, the Big 12 is doing WVU no favors. Right or wrong, national media writers and pundits based the conference strength on Texas and Oklahoma. Texas has proven to be a tire fire under Charlie Strong, never getting above that 7 win plateau. Oklahoma came into the 2016 season with all the chips lining up. They were a top-5 team to start the season. They had two tremendous non-conference games on the slate. When Oklahoma lost to Houston, the margin for the Big 12 was cut to zero. It was going to take either OU running the table the rest of the way or any other Big 12 team going undefeated to make the playoffs. When Oklahoma was run off the field by Ohio State, the Big 12 was left for dead. It doesn’t matter that ESPN’s Stats and Information tweeted that WVU’s current 8-1 record is the 6th strongest Strength of Record and would only be achieved 36% of the time by an average Top 25 team. Yet, West Virginia lags behind.

Playoff Rankings

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan
  4. Clemson
  5. Louisville
  6. Washington
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Penn State
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Colorado
  11. Oklahoma State
  12. Utah
  13. USC
  14. West Virginia
  15. Auburn
  16. LSU
  17. Florida State
  18. Nebraska
  19. Tennessee
  20. Boise State
  21. Western Michigan
  22. Washington State
  23. Florida
  24. Stanford
  25. Texas A&M