MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dana Holgorsen sees value in his team returning to the top 25 rankings for the first time in 23 months. He just doesn’t want players accepting the additional exposure as a milestone.
West Virginia entered the AP poll at No. 22 this week, buoyed by a 41-27 win over then-No. 4 Baylor. In the coaches poll, the Mountaineers debuted at No. 25.
“It’s positive for the program, it’s good for national recognition. All that is good, and I’m not going to deny that,” Holgorsen said Tuesday. “It probably gets us talked about more … but it doesn’t adjust anything that we do.
“We’re not satisfied with where we’re at. We’re not interested with people telling us that we’re good or any of that. We’ve got to just keep doing our job.”
The job, and West Virginia’s road to a potential Big 12 championship, remains thorny starting with Saturday’s trip to Stillwater, where Boone Pickens Stadium now encompasses one of the nation’s biggest home-field advantages. Oklahoma State has gone 22-2 there during the past four seasons, with both losses decided in the final 27 seconds.
Holgorsen has lived the Stillwater experience from both sides. He made four trips there as a Texas Tech assistant before serving one year as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator—a stint he leveraged into the West Virginia job in 2010.
During the 2012 season, Holgorsen led West Virginia back into Boone Pickens and lost 55-34, dropping his record as a visiting coach to 1-4.
This time around the Cowboys and Mountaineers own identical 5-2 overall records and 3-1 conference marks, but OSU is trying to rebound from a spotty two-game stretch that sent it tumbling out of the top 25. First came a 27-20 scare at Kansas before last weekend’s 42-9 humiliation at TCU.
Having watched Mike Gundy average nearly 10 wins during the past six seasons, Holgorsen expects a strong bounce-back effort from Oklahoma State.
“They’re going to be ready to play,” he said. “It’s homecoming. It’s going to be sold-out. It’s going to be loud.”
After beating a top-five opponent for the first time since 2003, West Virginia could be hardpressed to match last week’s enthusiasm. Holgorsen understands the psychological pitfall and senses his team is equipped to guard against it.
“I think if we had a very young and immature team, then that would be a huge challenge,” he said. “But we have a very experienced, older team that likes each other, plays hard for each other and understands what we’re trying to accomplish. Really, what we’re trying to accomplish is to win the next game.
“I basically asked the guys if they were satisfied with the (Baylor) win, and it was a unanimous ‘not satisfied.'”