It’s always a good thing to be playing football at the end of December. I know some games don’t carry the same prestige or weight as others, but playing football after Christmas is a mark of a decent season.
The Mountaineers have already amassed a 9-2 record this season and sit firmly in third place in the Big 12. Despite what happens on Saturday, WVU will finish third in the conference due to our superior record and win over Kansas State (the Snydercats are 5-3 in the conference and the Mountaineers are 6-3, so a tied conference record is on the table).
Just because the Big 12 won’t have a team in the College Football Playoff doesn’t mean it won’t have a team play in a CFP Bowl. The conference champion still has an automatic berth to the Sugar Bowl this season, so the OU-OK State winner will go to New Orleans for New Year’s Day.
From there, the Big 12 has six other bowl games who have an order of selection. The first three bowls to select a Big 12 team are:
- Alamo Bowl, December 29, San Antonio, Texas, Big 12 2 vs. Pac 12 5
- Russell Athletic Bowl, December 28, Orlando, Florida, Big 12 3 vs. ACC 2
- Texas Bowl, December 28, Houston, Texas, Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8
Here's where the experts see us playing:
- ESPN (National): Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Miami.
- ESPN (Big 12): Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Louisville
- CBS Sports: Alamo Bowl vs. USC
- SB Nation: Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Florida State
- College Football News: Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Louisville
- Campus Insiders: Russell Athletic wl vs. Miami
So, as you can see, most media outlets see up playing in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Camping World Stadium in Orlando on December 28. Game time has been announced for 5:30 p.m. on ESPN. The Russell Athletic Bowl would pit us against this season’s upper-echelon of the ACC (well, maybe except Miami). With this, comes a chance to showcase our team on a national level against great talent and make a statement that WVU and the Big 12 were unjustly overlooked all season.
The possibility of the Alamo Bowl still exists, but I truly don’t see the Alamo Bowl skipping on either Oklahoma team, no matter who loses the Bedlam game. Also, I would like to think that the Big 12 would like to work with the bowls to place us closer to our fan base, which would obviously be Orlando.
Personally, I don’t see Kansas State being selected above us for the Russell Athletic Bowl. Even a 9-3 WVU team is more intriguing than an 8-4 Kansas State team. On top of that, WVU playing either Louisville or Florida State are incredibly intriguing matchups to sell.
One note that needs to be mentioned, WVU and Virginia Tech will likely not play in a bowl game due to the contract negotiated with FedEx Field for the 2017 season-opening game. The only outlet that has reported this being a problem except for CBS, which has VT playing OK State in the Russell Athletic Bowl. In this case, WVU moves to a “better” bowl, so that works in our favor.