Despite a rocky start, with one game remaining the Mountaineers and Neal Brown find themselves 60 minutes away from securing a second straight bowl game. Since this is the first time The Smoking Musket has taken a look at the bowl picture this season, let’s start with a few ground rules and basics.
WVU will likely need a win in Kansas to secure bowl eligibility. It is possible that a handful of 5-7 teams could eventually get invites, but WVU is not likely to be among those selected if that were the case.
For 2021-2022, the conference is guaranteed six bowl bids. The College Football Playoff and the New Years Six games (Sugar, Rose, Fiesta and Peach) select first. The Fiesta and Peach do not have contractual agreements with any conference and will select two “at-large” teams each.
The Big 12, unlike the ACC and Big Ten, does not determine the placement of teams. Big 12 bowl partners will make selections from the remaining conference teams not selected by the CFP/NY6. The following is the order of selection. A bowl may pick from any available teams with .500 or better records when it reaches its spot in the selection order. After the placement of those teams, slots will be filled from among the pool of remaining teams.
- Allstate Sugar Bowl vs SEC
- Valero Alamo Bowl vs Pac-12
- Cheez It Bowl vs ACC
- Texas Bowl vs SEC
- Autozone Liberty Bowl vs SEC
- Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs Big Ten
If seven teams from the Big 12 were bowl eligible, they would be eligible for either the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl or the SERVPRO First Responders Bowl.
After this weekend, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas Tech have all qualified for bowl eligibility. Both WVU and TCU can reach bowl eligibility this weekend. For those keeping track at home that would be eight teams for seven spots, which could make things interesting for a couple reasons that I will lay out in a moment.
The bowl pecking order will be in flux for a few reasons. The biggest unknown will be if the Big 12 gets only one team in the CFB/NY6. There are a number of ways this could happen, but based on the currenting rankings the bowl picture would be:
Not In Discussion for WVU, but worth understanding:
- Sugar Bowl - Oklahoma: Even if they beat Oklahoma State twice in a row, I think the chances of them getting in the CFB are extremely slim.
- Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma St: I think they win Bedlam, lose the title game and get rewarded with either Michigan or Oregon in Phoenix.
- Alamo Bowl - Baylor: In what will either be the last game of the Aranda era or the first game of the post-Aranda era, Baylor get the Alamo.
- Cheez It Bowl - Kansas State: This is most likely to between Iowa State and Kansas State, both of which travel extremely well. I think the folks in Orlando will be excited to get Kansas State for the first time.
- Texas Bowl - Texas Tech: This one is a bit more of a flyer, but since its inception, the Texas Bowl has featured at least one team from instate all but three times and not since 2013 when a matchup of Syracuse vs Minnesota had the lowest attendance in bowl history. Iowa State with their droves of fans could certainly slip in here, but I think they will want to take Tech vs Mike Leach’s Mississippi State.
- Liberty Bowl - Iowa State: If the Liberty Bowl has a choice between WVU and Iowa State, its hard for me to imagine them selecting us. This may make some folks mad, but as they say “the truth hurts.” If this comes down to WVU or Texas Tech, that’s a far more open question especially if they have the chance for say a WVU vs Tennessee matchup.
- Guaranteed Rate Bowl - WVU: In full disclosure, this is the bowl I most want to see us get because I live in Arizona, but it also just seems like the most likely outcome if things play out as chalk or something close to it over the next few weeks.
So who would WVU face? That could also greatly depend. If we are in the Liberty Bowl, it seems likely they would try for the aforementioned Tennessee match-up, they could also have Auburn or Missouri. In the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, the Big Ten picture is much clearer and is looking like either Minnesota or possibly Rutgers if they beat Maryland.
As I mentioned, there is still a lot that can change this. Baylor dropping their final game to TCU, Cincinnati losing or being left out of the playoff, a three loss Oklahoma or Oklahoma State and Baylor failing to secure a berth in either the Fiesta or Peach bowls, or WVU failing to win at Kansas could all turn this upside down.