Wow! What a difference a week makes. Last week when the Bowl Championship Series standings were released, West Virginia was in sixth place and facing long odds of making a leap into the top two. The top two teams in the final BCS standings play for the national championship in New Orleans.
When the season began, West Virginia University's football team was one of four or five teams favored to appear in that game. A late September loss to South Florida seemed to end those hopes, but since then teams ahead of WVU in the polls have tumbled. Eerily, the second place team seems to lose almost weekly.
West Virginia's assent in the BCS standings had become somewhat stagnant in recent weeks. As teams in front of WVU would lose and drop below the Mountaineers, teams would jump over WVU leaving the Mountaineers in sixth or seventh place for a month.
That has changed this week as West Virginia now occupies the third spot in this week's BCS standings. A move up in the standings was predictable since Oregon and Oklahoma each lost over the weekend. Last week Oregon was second and Oklahoma fourth in the BCS standings. Oregon's loss to Arizona and the Sooners' loss to Texas Tech could not have been predicted. Those results are simply astonishing and have put West Virginia squarely back in the hunt for a shot at the national title.
That being said, the Mountaineers almost botched that opportunity last Saturday in Cincinnati. With a seemingly comfortable lead in the fourth quarter, two fumbles by quarterback Pat White nearly cost the Mountaineers the football game. West Virginia held on to win 28-23, but it was the second game in a row that Mountaineer turnovers allowed a seemingly defeated opponent back into the game. Certainly a disturbing trend.
The fumbles were a distant memory when the BCS standings were released on Sunday evening. For the first time in a month no team passed West Virginia. Perhaps even more significant, the Mountaineers actually passed Missouri in this week's standings to occupy the third spot. It's hard not to get a little fired up at the development, but caution needs to be observed here.
For starters, top ranked LSU and second place Kansas control their own destiny, but each team will have a difficult time to stay where they are. Kansas plays fourth place Missouri this Saturday in a huge stakes football game. The winner will then meet Oklahoma or Texas in the Big 12 Championship. A Missouri win would likely allow them to jump back over the Mountaineers into second place. WVU fans need the winner of this game to lose the Big 12 Championship game, something which is a strong possibility.
LSU will host a dangerous Arkansas team this Friday and than will play either Tennessee or Georgia in the SEC Championship game. WVU fans would be wise to hope for Georgia to be that opponent since the game is in Atlanta. While LSU will be favored in both games, we know by now there are no sure things in college football this season.
With that, WVU must handle a solid Connecticut team this week and Pitt next week, then hope those challengers from behind stay there and the front runners lose.