The West Virginia Mountaineers (7-3, 3-2 Big East) upset the No. 23 Cincinnati Bearcats (7-2, 3-1 Big East), 24-21, last Saturday to pull to within a half-game of Cincinnati for the Big East lead. Given their favorable remaining schedule, with games against the Pittsburgh Panthers (5-5, 3-2) and South Florida Bulls (5-4, 1-4), it's very possible the Mountaineers will finish the season 9-3. Such a finish could have them making a trip to the Orange Bowl, according to SB Nation BCS expert Samuel Chi in his latest 2011 bowl projections post.
The Orange Bowl, scheduled for Jan. 4 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, is among the five BCS games to be played in 2012. Though Chi projects West Virginia will take part, he's not impressed with the Mountaineers, or with the Big East in general:
How a conference this horrible will continue to receive automatic BCS bids for three more seasons is - even given the BCS's penchant to confound - outright mind-boggling.
At present, Chi projects West Virginia to play the Clemson Tigers (9-1, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers stand at No. 7 in the nation, while West Virginia is no longer ranked, having fallen out of the Associated Press Top 25 on Nov. 6. It peaked at No. 11 on Oct. 16.