A month ago when West Virginia University lost to South Florida the Mountaineers' hope at a national title shot was a pipe dream. Even the idea of West Virginia playing in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game seemed remote. Then came the upsets. In three consecutive weeks the second ranked team lost. Top ranked LSU also lost.
All of a sudden West Virginia had a chance not only to get into a BCS bowl, but the door to a berth in the national championship game was left ajar. The Big East title is also now WVU's to lose as USF suffered its second league loss to Connecticut. Last weekend though the rash of upsets was halted. That also, at least temporarily, halted West Virginia's ascension back up the ratings.
Ironically WVU's convincing 31-3 win over Rutgers did not immediately pay dividends. What would have appeared to be a signature win actually saw the Mountaineers drop from sixth to seventh in three polls, the AP, the USA Today and the Harris Poll. In the all important BCS standings the Mountaineers remained at seven.
Don't worry if you are a Mountaineer fan. The Mountaineers dropped a spot in the human polls because Arizona State is 8-0 and had a quality win over California, so the voters decided that was enough to move the Bears past the Mountaineers. I may claim that the WVU win was as significant, but for now the plan is to remain calm. There is still plenty of time for the chips to fall WVU's way. Remember though WVU can still not afford a loss, but if the Mountaineers win out, they will at least be the Big East champions.
Let's take a look at what could propel WVU into the championship game. Ohio State is undefeated with a 9-0 record. The Buckeyes have Wisconsin and Illinois at home and finish at Michigan. That is three games the Buckeyes will likely be favored to win. OSU's win over Penn State last Saturday was huge. Still, any one of these games could result in an Ohio State loss. WVU fans need to hope that happens.
Ditto the Boston College Eagles who are also undefeated and second in the BCS standings. WVU need the Eagles to lose. A one loss team like LSU could perhaps overtake BC, but it is unlikely that a one loss WVU team would get that kind of love. BC has Florida State at home, then play at Maryland and Clemson before hosting Miami. There could easily be a loss or two there, but nothing to hang your hat on. There will also be an ACC championship game for BC.
In third is LSU, the team most likely to get to the title game with one loss. They are at Alabama this weekend. They host Louisiana Tech, play at Ole Miss and host Arkansas. The Tigers will also have a conference championship game to deal with. Bama is the best chance for LSU to lose. LSU, however, could easily win out.
In the fourth BCS slot is Arizona State who must play one loss Oregon who occupies the fifth slot this weekend. An ASU win may be what a WVU fan wants because the Sun Devils will have to meet USC in three weeks. They also have to play UCLA and Arizona.
The Ducks will see Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State and there is nothing scary about that line up, except that we already know any team can go down if not prepared.
In the sixth spot, just ahead of WVU, is Oklahoma. The Sooners have Texas A&M this week and Baylor next weekend at home. They play at Texas Tech and host Oklahoma State to close the regular season before the Big 12 Championship game.
West Virginia won't be guaranteed to pass the loser of the Arizona State vs Oregon game this weekend, but it would be likely, especially if that loser is Oregon who will then have two losses. As it appears from here, WVU won't pass any team in front of them unless that team loses. Then there is also undefeated Kansas behind them, but that is a team to worry about later.