As West Virginia heads into Thursday’s Liberty Bowl, the Mountaineers will likely need some luck.
After all, their bowl history is a bit hazy.
Sitting at 5-4, West Virginia will take on the Army Black Knights in Memphis, Tennessee — the first bowl appearance of the Neal Brown era and the last game of the 2020 season.
The last time West Virginia finished 5-4 — albeit with two ties — was in 1992, and the Don Nehlen-led Mountaineers did not receive a bowl bid.
This season, the Mountaineers have an advantage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reliant on the rule tweak that waived bowl eligibility requirements for this season and, regardless of record, made every Division I team bowl eligible.
West Virginia is the fifth Big 12 team that remains in “Bowl Season” after TCU dropped out of the Texas Bowl earlier this week. Oklahoma State and Texas earned wins on Tuesday, while Oklahoma and Iowa State have yet to kickoff. The five games are the fewest for the Big 12 since before the 2012 realignment.
Shifting gears to the opponent, West Virginia and Army have not met since 1961 — nearly 20 years before current head coach Neal Brown was born. That matchup was a 7-3 win for the Mountaineers, but the Black Knights hold the head-to-head advantage, 2-1. None of those three meetings were in a bowl game.
Army enters the game with a 9-2 record. Since 2000, WVU hasn’t met a single team with that record, which can again be attributed to the much different season resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Historically, Navy is the only other service academy that the Mountaineers have faced, and the Midshipmen have come out on top in six of eight games.
West Virginia is 15-22 all time in bowl game appearances, but has not won a Liberty Bowl in two appearances. The most recent appearance was a 2014 loss to Texas A&M.
The Mountaineers have never met a Division I independent in a bowl game. Their only independent opponent since joining the Big 12 was BYU, who they defeated in 2016.
What does it all mean? Well, West Virginia has, historically, performed subpar in bowl games, and their head-to-head matchups against their opponent — despite being long ago — did not swing in the Mountaineers favor.
If history is any basis for a prediction, the Mountaineers could be chasing after the Black Knights come Thursday’s kickoff.
Broadcast on ESPN, the 62nd Liberty Bowl is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
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