Football, Sports, WVU Sports

COLUMN: WVU can fight for more than just a Bowl Game this season

The last time WVU fans saw their team play at home, the Mountaineers were collapsing in the fourth quarter of a 48-34 loss to Oklahoma State.

Head coach Neal Brown said his team needed to redeem itself when it returned home this week and redeem themselves the Mountaineers did.

WVU played its best game of the season in beating the BYU Cougars, 37-7, and became bowl-eligible in the process.

“We didn’t talk about it, I didn’t even say anything about it in the locker room,” Brown said of becoming bowl-eligible. “The best teams play their best in November, and that was the best game we’ve played this year.”

The Mountaineers played solid defense early in the year and have been playing well on offense lately, but Saturday was the first time the team did both in the same game.

“Really a good win for us,” Brown said. “I thought it was a complete game. The last two weeks we’ve played what we call ‘good football’ and today was probably our most complete game where we’ve played good in all three phases.”

The Mountaineers weren’t perfect either — quarterback Garrett Greene only completed 50% of his passes, for example — but all three phases played well enough to combine for the team’s biggest blowout win in years.

“I think it was only a matter of time,” Greene said. “We haven’t really played really good in all three phases (in the same game).”

Reaching six wins in the first week of November also puts the Mountaineers in a position they haven’t been in for quite some time. Instead of playing out the remaining three contests fighting to make a bowl game, the Mountaineers are now fighting to make the Big 12 Championship game.

“We’re alive and well in the conference race,” Brown said. “That’s what we’re talking about. Obviously, a big game next week to continue to play our way in.”

The Mountaineers are one of seven teams in the Big 12 with only one or two conference losses. With a game against Oklahoma next week, the Mountaineers could forge a path to appear in the championship game in December.

“We’re still in the running for the Big 12 championship game,” noted freshman linebacker Ben Cutter,  “that’s our ultimate goal.” 

With three games left on the schedule and a bowl game appearance already clinched, WVU has already matched its previous high for most wins (six) and most conference wins (four) in a season under Brown.

“I think we’re starting to hit our stride,” Brown said. “I think the story on this season is far from written.”

It’s taken five seasons, but this is the point Brown has been building towards since taking over in 2019. While fans have been sour on Brown for much of the last two years, there has been obvious progress made this season that the Mountaineers can be proud of.