While it is easier to get into a bowl these days, what with 35 games dotting the calendar from mid-December through the first week of January, consecutive bowl appearances are still a laudable achievement. The program consistency required to string together double-digit bowl appearances is considerable, and requires a great deal of talent and effort across the board.
WVU will extend its consecutive bowl appearance streak to 11 this year, a number that is matched or exceeded by just nine schools. Florida State (30) heads the list, followed by Florida, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and LSU. Boise State and Wisconsin are tied with West Virginia.
Two schools will see their streaks broken this year. Southern Mississippi did so spectacularly, flaming out with an 0-12 record, while Ohio State's myriad cheating issues will prevent it from attending a bowl.
GO FOR IT
West Virginia has attempted 32 fourth-down conversions this year, succeeding 17 times for a 53% success rate. Only Air Force, Army and Penn State have attempted more fourth down conversions than WVU in 2012. KU is just behind with 29 attempts, but has turned just ten of those chances into first downs.
Kansas' coaching staff is dotted with NFL connections, as might be expected given head coach Charlie Weis' background. Former NFL lineman Tim Grunhard (Kansas City) and longtime NFL coach Dave Campo (Dallas) are prominent on the staff, as is linebackers coach Demontie Cross (Buffalo). In all, the KU staff has 39 years of coaching experience in the league.
There are still lots of Notre Dame ties, too, despite Weis' unsuccessful tenure in South Bend. Grunhard is a Notre Dame grad, as is quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus, who was a four-year starter at the school.
Twenty-one WVU seniors will make their final run down the tunnel for a game on Saturday. Of that number, 20 have earned appreciable playing time during their careers, and all deserve a warm-sendoff for their contributions to the Mountaineer program.
This year’s senior list provided by WVU includes: Tavon Austin (WR), Josh Francis (LB), Pat Miller (CB), Geno Smith (QB), Shawne
Alston (RB), Cecil Level (S), Terence Garvin (LB), Donovan Miles (RB), Ryan Clarke (RB), Nick Cadwell (S),
Tyler Bitancurt (K/P), Corey Smith (K/P), Taige Redman (LB), Jeff Braun (OL), John Bassler (OL), Joe
Madsen (OL), Josh Jenkins (OL), Ryan Nehlen (WR), J.D. Woods (WR), J.B. Lageman (DL) and Jorge Wright
Redman is a senior academically, but does have one more year of eligibility remaining.
ACROSS THE BOARD
Kansas is one of four schools in the NCAA that has had
three different running backs eclipse the 100-yard rushing
mark in a game this season. James Sims has
six 100-yard games, Tony Pierson has three 100-yard
games, and Taylor Cox has one 100-yard
rushing game to his credit this season. California, Tulsa and
Middle Tennessee are the other three schools to have three
running backs hit the century mark.
West Virginia is 3-3 at home this year, with the Kansas game remaining. The last time WVU finished under .500 at home was in 1990, when the Mountaineers were 2-5. In that season, wins over Kent State and Cincinnati were offset by losses to Maryland, Louisville, Boston College, Penn State and Syracuse.
In addition to finishing above the break-even line at home, the Mountaineers will also be trying to avoid its first four-game losing streak in Morgantown since 1986. West Virginia posted a 1-5 mark at Mountaineer Field that year.
LESS THAN STRENGTHS
West Virginia’s pass defense is yielding an average of 347.5 yards and more than three touchdowns per game. Of WVU's eight interceptions this year, only one has been snared by a cornerback (Brodrick Jenkins). The other seven came from safeties and linebackers. No Mountaineer has more than one pick this year.
On the flip side, Kansas wide receivers have not caught a touchdown pass this year. One group or the other should enjoy an above-average level of success in the final game of the regular season.