Baylor will feel some pressure as the No. 5 team in the Bowl Championship Series standings, and Texas and Oklahoma State join the Bears in feeling the heat of the Big 12 race.
But no Big 12 teams will play with greater intensity this week than West Virginia and TCU.
The Mountaineers and the Horned Frogs bring identical 4-6 records to the Sunflower State on Saturday — West Virginia plays at Kansas, TCU at Kansas State.
One more loss for either eliminates them from bowl eligibility, and these are programs used to playing in December and sometimes January.
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The Mountaineers’ 11-year postseason streak includes three BCS bowls. TCU has played in eight straight, two in the BCS. Both teams managed to keep the streaks alive in 2012, their first year in the Big 12. The second year has been a bigger struggle.
West Virginia has dropped four of five, the latest a heartbreaker in overtime at home to Texas.
TCU, which had reached the no-margin-for-error status a week earlier, broke a three-game losing streak by winning at Iowa State on Saturday.
Minor bowls games are merely television programming for most, but the extra month of practice allows coaches to get a jump on next season.
It’s important enough to be part of Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen’s motivational package this week.
“At this point, we have to win the next one to get us to a bowl game, or else the bowl game is out,” Holgersen said. “If we can get the victory we’ll take the same approach (Nov. 30) against Iowa State.”
The Big 12 already knows it will qualify fewer teams to the postseason than last year, when nine reached at least six victories. Iowa State, 1-8, and Kansas, 2-7, have been eliminated.
The league has contracts with seven bowls and may wind up hitting that mark this year.Big 12 bowl projections
•Buffalo Wild Wings:
West VirginiaConsecutive bowl participation streaks
Georgia, Georgia Tech
Boise State, West Virginia, Wisconsin
TCU, BYU, Clemson, Nevada, Oregon
*Florida State’s 31-year bowl streak includes a 2006 Emerald Bowl appearance that was vacated, and the NCAA doesn’t recognize the Seminoles’ streak.Big 12 rankings
|Team (previous rank)||Saturday’s opponent||Comment|
|1. Baylor (1)||vs. Texas Tech at Arlington, Texas||Petty in Heisman chatter|
|2. Texas (2)||Oklahoma State||Lost two of three to Pokes|
|3. Oklahoma State (4)||at Texas||Still thinking Big 12 title|
|4. Kansas State (6)||TCU||Wildcats on a roll|
|5. Oklahoma (3)||Iowa State||Sooners offense seeks answers|
|6. Texas Tech (5)||vs. Baylor at Arlington, Texas||Not a good week to end slide|
|7. West Virginia (7)||at Kansas||First trip to Lawrence|
|8. TCU (8)||at Kansas State||Gary Patterson returns to alma mater|
|9. Iowa State (9)||at Oklahoma||Could be worst season since 2008|
|10. Kansas (10)||West Virginia||Time running out in ’13 to end streaks|