MORGANTOWN — The sun still rose over the West Virginia football facility Monday morning.
Though West Virginia’s 45-41 loss at Oklahoma State was an undeniable setback, the primary goal Dana Holgorsen set for this season remains on the table. With a win over Oklahoma on Friday, the Mountaineers will be playing for a Big 12 championship in two weeks.
The only thing erased for the Mountaineers is a shot at the College Football Playoff, which was always more of an aspiration than a goal. West Virginia couldn’t control the chaos that needed to unfold in order to reach college football’s Final Four.
“It’s been a lot of fun this season. We’re having a good time playing ball,” Holgorsen said during Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference. “Obviously we’re disappointed with how things ended the other night. But what a Big 12 game. What a college football game.
“We’ve got another exciting one this weekend. We’re in a position where this game matters and we couldn’t be more excited about it. We know this game matters. If we win, we’ve accomplished our goal.”
Holgorsen gave credit to Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius for his role in spoiling West Virginia’s trip to Stillwater. Cornelius passed for 338 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 106 yards and another score.
Holgorsen noted that Cornelius is an anomaly in the transfer-heavy modern era that West Virginia itself has benefitted from.
“Cornelius has improved more than I’ve seen anyone improve over the course of his senior year,” Holgorsen said. “Waited his turn for four years. A guy like that could have jumped ship, and he didn’t. He stuck with it and had a great senior night against us.
“I do think there is some value to sticking where your heart is and playing your tail off when you get to play your tail off.”
Ehlinger resting angry shoulder
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger still hasn’t yet tried throwing a pass after leaving Texas’ 24-10 win over Iowa State with a shoulder injury. Longhorns coach Tom Herman said it was an inflamed AC joint and is hopeful Ehlinger will play this week.
“No broken bones. No separation. No ridiculous amount of damage. But it’s angry. It’s upset,” Herman said. “The joint, the shoulder, is inflamed, so he won’t throw today. Our hope is to have him throwing by tomorrow.”
Texas needs a win at Kansas to clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game.
One Longhorn who will definitely not make it onto the field at Kansas is mascot Bevo XV. According to his official Twitter account – presumably managed by handlers with fingers – Kansas does not permit live animal mascots in Memorial Stadium.
This marks only the second time in 73 years that a Bevo has missed a Thanksgiving week game. The issue rarely arose when the Texas finished the season against its actual rival, Texas A&M.
Les is more (awkward)
The primary focus at Kansas is on yet another hard-headed, grass-chewing character who also won’t be on the sideline this weekend.
The Jayhawks introduced former Oklahoma State and LSU coach Les Miles on Sunday, but first he must await the departure of current coach David Beaty. Beaty will coach his final game against the Longhorns.
It’s a bit of an awkward scenario, which was made plainly obvious by Beaty.
“I haven’t spoken to him. We probably won’t speak,” Beaty said. “I’m coach for the rest of the week, and then it’s the changing of the guard.”
Patterson not going anywhere for awhile
TCU coach Gary Patterson took to Twitter on Sunday to point out that he is not planning to retire following the Horned Frogs season finale.
According to Patterson, an unnamed fellow head coach was telling recruits to hold off on visiting TCU because of his pending retirement. Since this crossed the line even in the ethically murky world of recruiting, Patterson felt it necessary to go public with the laundry.
“Hopefully I coach as long as I enjoy the game. This Saturday I hope I look like I still enjoy the game,” Patterson said. “If I ever get to the point I think I hurt the program, they won’t have to tell me.”