MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia will learn its bowl destination next Sunday, once the league championship games are completed and the CFP matchups finalized.
Most projections have the Mountaineers (7-5, 5-4) headed to the Liberty Bowl to face either Memphis or Missouri, or going to the Cactus Bowl against Oregon.
One ESPN forecaster dropped West Virginia into the Heart of Dallas Bowl against UT-San Antonio. (Marshall is another candidate to be Conference USA representative in that game.)
Whatever the destination, quarterback Chris Chugunov said the team will be eager to rally from finishing the regular season with back-to-back losses.
“Everybody’s got a bad taste in their mouth,” he said after the 59-31 loss to Oklahoma. “So it will be a good month of preparation.”
WVU razed and dazed
Oklahoma’s 45-point first-half explosion marked a low point for the Mountaineers’ defense dating back to the 2013 loss in Waco where Baylor scored 56 by halftime.
“They just jumped out fast. Got us on our heels and that’s that,” said WVU linebacker David Long. “We’ve got to do our job. Players have got to be players.”
Thousands and thousands
The absence of Will Grier transformed West Virginia’s passing game and, at least temporarily, has slowed the chase for three 1,000-yard receivers.
Gary Jennings already has a 1,030 yards this season, while the bowl game presents a chance for David Sills (980) and Ka’Raun White (978) to reach the mark. Three such receivers on one team has only happened five times in the FBS, most recently at Fresno State in 2013.
Even rarer has an offense paired three 1,000-yard receivers with a 1,000-yard rusher — that happened once, at Tulsa in 2007. WVU would be the second, considering Justin Crawford closed the regular season with 1,060.
From Mayfield to Murray
Oklahoma’s presumed Heisman winner Baker Mayfield is a senior, but West Virginia experienced a glimpse of the electricity Kyler Murray can bring next season.
The sophomore transfer from Texas A&M ran three times for 80 yards and completed 2-of-2 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. Murray’s season totals in spot duty are stellar: 18-of-21 passing for 359 yards and three TDs, plus 13 rushes for 143 yards.
“This program is in great hands,” Mayfield said. “We’ve got a great coaching staff, and then Kyler taking the reins next year, he’s a very talented guy.”