by Jim Buzzerd
Not a lot to say
So, I just deleted a paragraph talking about the West Virginia University Football Team accepting a bid to play Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl on New Year’s Eve. The game is at 4 p.m. on ESPN, but Monday afternoon word came that Tennessee will not be the opponent due to a COVID breakout within the Volunteers program. Since this is happening as I sit here, what I’m relaying could be old news in a matter of hours, even minutes after I hit send.
For now, the teams being mentioned to replace Tennessee are Mississippi State and Army. The spot in the Liberty Bowl belongs to the SEC and that would mean the Bulldogs could land there. MSU (3-7) was headed to the Armed Forces Bowl to meet Tulsa, but Army had a great season at 9-2, but was left out of a bowl all together when the Independence Bowl cancelled its game.
Will the SEC broker a change of venue for MSU, or will Army just fill in for Tennessee? Army would seem to be a natural fit for the Armed Forces Bowl, but then we wouldn’t have liberty without the Army, so it’s apt either way. I’ve watched Army in some of their games this season and they truly give teams fits with their Flexbone Offense. I would favor a WVU-Army game.
Not because I think Army is an easier win than MSU, because I think the opposite. Playing Army would make the game more interesting on a national level and beating them would add a quality win for the WVU program.
A week ago, the Mountaineer basketball team was flying high after their most impressive win of the season, an 87-71 win over Richmond. They followed that game with a dud against Iowa State last Friday. WVU won the game 70-65, but Iowa State controlled much of the game and if it weren’t for several Cyclone miscues late in the game WVU would have suffered a devastating loss.
The close call didn’t hurt WVU in the polls as the Mountaineers rose a spot to seventh in the AP Poll and sixth in the Coaches Poll. That set up Tuesday’s Top Ten matchup at Kansas. The Jayhawks were ranked third and fourth respectively. Each team entered the game with 7-1 records with their only loss coming at the hand of top ranked Gonzaga. Speaking of Gonzaga, they have an impressive win list. In addition to wins over Top 10 WVU and Kansas, they gave Top 10 Iowa a 99-88 loss last week.
Because of not publishing next week it will be a while before the Kansas game can be a topic. What we know at the moment is next Tuesday’s basketball game with Buffalo has been cancelled. Seeing how WVU replaced Robert Morris with Texas State in short order, don’t be surprised if a replacement game is found. West Virginia will be at Oklahoma on Saturday, January 2 at 4 p.m. on ESPN2, and stay west for a Monday game at Oklahoma State in the third 9 p.m. game of the season on one of the ESPN channels.
As I prepare to hit send, I see reports are out that Army will replace Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl… and now official.