WVU bashes BYU, becomes bowl eligible The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast

The Mountaineers produced their most complete performance of the season against BYU, winning 37-7 in their penultimate home game of 2023. Nick Farrell and Anjelica Trinone react to the victory and head coach Neal Brown's postgame thoughts. 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the first time since 2021, and the third time in the Neal Brown era, the West Virginia University football team is bowl-eligible. The Mountaineers were dominant in nearly every aspect of the game in Saturday night’s 37-7 home win over BYU.

By beating the visiting Cougars, WVU improved to 6-3 on the year and 4-2 in Big 12 play. The Mountaineers have won their last two games by a combined 43 points.

With three weeks left in the regular season, West Virginia has already won more games than many prognosticators and so-called college football experts around the country thought it would win. Simply earning one of the 82 available spots on college football’s bowl game slate isn’t the goal, though. It wasn’t even discussed in the locker room following Saturday’s victory.

“The best teams play their best in November, and that was the best game we’ve played this year. So, we’ve got a four-game stretch in November, that’s the way we’re attacking it. We’re 1-0,” said head coach Neal Brown. “And what I told them is, results — bowl eligibility and all those types of things —, we’re alive and well in the conference race. And that’s what we’re talking about.”

West Virginia was picked to finish 14th in the Big 12 preseason poll. The Mountaineers have used that as motivation all season long. They are currently tied for third in the conference standings, and just one game out of first place.

WVU will head to Norman coming off the most-lopsided victory against an FBS or Big 12 opponent since Brown took over the program in 2019. Saturday’s 30-point victory was validating for a team and a program that has let the preseason projections add fuel to the fire.

“It is what it is. That’s where we were picked. And week in and week out we’ve got to that that’s not who we are. I think this team plays with a chip on their shoulder, they’re [as] resilient as any group I’ve ever been a part of. You know, we’ve had some really low points, and they’ve been able to bounce back. So, I think the story on this season is far from written. I think it will continue to progress as we roll.”

Neal Brown

WVU will look to win a seventh game in one season for the first time under Brown next week against nationally-ranked Oklahoma in primetime. The Sooners (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) have lost their last two games.

This is the third time the Mountaineers have gotten to six wins under Brown. The first was in the shortened 2020 season, when WVU went 6-4, including a win in the Liberty Bowl. West Virginia won six regular-season games the following year but lost in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl to finish with a 6-7 overall record.

The latest victory this season came with key contributions from freshmen like Jahiem White (16 carries, 146 yards) and Ben Cutter (six total tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack). But even as they clinch a postseason appearance for the first time in their collegiate careers, they, too, have their eyes fixated on achieving more.

“It wasn’t a huge point during the week because that’s not our final goal,” said the first-year linebacker. “We’re still in the running for a Big 12 Championship game, so I think that’s our real goal here.”