Kansas, Weis stagger to Morgantown for finale

No couches were burned. They could have been after West Virginia held off Iowa State to finally qualify for a bowl bid.

They may not have been burning their way to Almost Heaven in Morgantown (probably because it was the Thanksgiving holiday and thousands of students were drinking somewhere away from Sunnyside), but there was an impromptu celebration in Ames, Iowa in the aftermath of Friday’s 31-24 Mountaineer win over Iowa State’s Cyclones.
Tyler Bitancurt had made three field goals and missed only one.
There had been 11 penalties against West Virginia, yet a win had been secured in the last seconds when Darwin Cook forced a Iowa State fumble from the Mountaineer seven. The loose football was recovered in the end zone by Karl Joseph . . . and the Mountaineers ran out the clock.
Shawne Alston rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown. Geno Smith was 22-for-31 for 236 yards and two scores. Stedman Bailey had seven catches for 82 yards and Tavon Austin was his steady, reliable self with 74 yards rushing, 99 pass-receiving yards, and 46 return yards.
Austin’s game-deciding, 75-yard touchdown run that circled the Cyclone defense sent West Virginia ahead by seven. But back came freshman quarterback Sam Richardson and his Cyclone offensive mates. And they reached the West Virginia seven. Jeff Woody fumbled when hit by Cook. Joseph recovered and it was a touchback with West Virginia getting possession on its 25. The fourth-quarter clock ran out.
West Virginia had its first win since an Oct. 6 success against Texas. And its 6-5 record qualified for a bowl game.
The regular season closes on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Morgantown against the Big 12’s tailend team, the Kansas Jayhawks of Coach Charlie Weis.
Weis was at Florida last year as defensive coordinator. Before that, he was the head master in South Bend at Ol’ Notre Dame. His first year on the plains has been full of pain — the Jayhawks are 1-10 and come in with 10 straight losses after opening with their only win against South Dakota State.
Winless in the Big 12. Winless on the road.
Losers to Rice and Northern Illinois.
But the Jayhawks lost by seven points in overtime to Texas Tech, lost by four points to Texas, and lost by six points to Oklahoma State.
But they had blowout losses at Kansas State, at Oklahoma, at Baylor, and at home in Lawrence against Iowa State.
Kansas didn’t play last week. Maybe there is very little to play for, but the Jayhawks should be rested and have some players returning from minor injuries.
Out of the 10 teams in the Big 12, fully nine of them are now eligible for a bowl game because they have won at least six games.
In the conference standings, both Kansas State and Oklahoma have 7-1 league records. Texas is at 6-2 and Oklahoma State is at 5-3. Texas Christian is 4-4 with Texas Tech at 4-5 with its season complete. West Virginia is 3-5 and so is Baylor. Iowa State is at 3-6, having finished its regular season with the loss to the Mountaineers.
Nine bowl-eligible teams. But not that many bowl slots allotted to Big 12 teams.
West Virginia could be selected to play in a bowl where a conference such as the Big 10 can’t fill all the slots available to it. Only seven Big 10 teams will qualify for any bowl.
The lower-rung bowls available to Big 12 teams are the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York, the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston, and the Valley of the Sun Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.
Big 12 teams will also occupy spots in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas and the Alamo Bowl in the San Antonio. The BCS could select a conference team in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona when it places an at-large team there.
The BCS national championship match will pit unbeaten Notre Dame against the winner of the Alabama vs. Georgia game that settles the Southeastern Conference title. Alabama and Georgia are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the latest BCS ratings.
West Virginia’s bowl date or location have not been settled. The outcome of the Kansas game could give the Mountaineers a more lucrative and advantageous bowl location should they defeat the Jayhawks.

 

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