A Brief History of Mountaineers in Bowl Games and 2023 Bowl Predictions

MORGANTOWN,WV—Since the West Virginia Mountaineer football team has qualified for a bowl appearance and an 8-4 record, the question fans are asking is “What bowl and what team will the eer’s face?”  What bowl and what team would the fans like to see and do you think the Mountaineers can win it? After conference championship weekend, we will have our answer.

Latest prediction: WVU would play on Dec. 23 in Fort Worth, Texas against Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. Air Force finished the 2023 season at 8-4 (5-3). The Mountaineers are set as a 6.5-point favorite. Air Force, out of the Mountain West, was 8-0 before losing to Army, Hawaii, UNLV and Boise State to finish the season. The other strong possibility is a rematch against old Big East rival, Syracuse.

Fox Sports has WVU playing Texas A&M on December 27 in the Texas Bowl. That is a matchup all of us would like to see! Brett McMurphy has us playing Toledo in the Birmingham Bowl on December 23. Yuck. The Athletic has WVU playing Cal in the Independence Bowl on December 16. CBS Sports projects WVU vs. Memphis in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29.

Here is a brief history of the Mountaineers in bowl games:

Since 1891 (when the football team was established) WVU has appeared in 39 bowl games. Some of the appearances have been the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl. Believe it or not but The Mountaineers have more bowl appearances than Ole Miss (38), Notre Dame (37), rival Pittsburgh (35), and Virginia Tech (34).

Since 2000 West Virginia has had more postseason bowl wins, including the 2006 Sugar Bowl over Georgia, the 2008 Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma and the 2012 Orange Bowl over Clemson.

In the season immediately following a WVU Bowl victory the Mountaineers have:

1). Secured two of the program’s five 11 win seasons (2006 and 2007).

2). Averaged 8.2 wins a season.

3). Won at least 8 games, seven times (or 64 percent of the time).

4). Won 9 or more games six times.

5). Only had a sub .500 record once.

6). Won a bowl game 4 times.

7). Lost a bowl game five times.

8). Not appeared in a bowl game twice.

In the season immediately following a bowl game loss, the Mountaineers have:

1). Had two of the program’s five 11 win seasons (1988 and 2005)

2). Averaged 7.4 wins a season

3). Won at least 8 games 11 times (or 58 percent of the time.)

4). Won nine or more games 5 times.

5). Had a sub .500 record five times.

6). Won a bowl game four times

7). Lost a bowl game 10 times

8). Not appeared in a bowl game five times.

Traditionally, WVU has fared slightly better in years coming after a bowl game win.

Mountaineer fans should consider this:

Since WVU’s first appearance in a bowl game in 1937, the Mountaineers have never had back to back years with a losing record following a defeat in a bowl game. WVU averages 7.7 wins per season following a trip to the postseason.

After you exclude the sub .500 record seasons in Rich Rodriguez and Neal Brown’s first year with the program, that average improves to eight wins per season.

The Mountaineers have also won at least eight games, 60 percent of the time in the season immediately after playing in a bowl game.

Does this mean that Neal Brown will win eight or more games in the 2024 season? Is it possible that WVU will play in the Big 12 Championship game? Hopefully Brown can keep his 2023 roster intact for next season.