WVU-South Florida: Statement Time for the Mountaineers

Frank AhrensSenior Writer INovember 9, 2016

WVU's all-three-phases domination of East Carolina last week was nice—but it was no statement.

At least not to the poll voters.

With Louisville's (most likely) permanent disappearance from the Top 25, WVU is running out of chances to win meaningful games.

As it stands, WVU has three ranked teams left on its schedule: No. 10 Rutgers, No. 18 South Florida, and No. 24 Cincinnati.

WVU doesn't play Cincinnati until November 17th—and with games against Rutgers and South Florida, I don't expect the Bearcats to stick in the Top 25.

Louisville seemed like a Top 10 lock until its November 8th game at Morgantown...but we all know how that turned out.

If Mississippi State (3-1) wins a couple games in the SEC, it may creep into the Top 25 in time for its October 20th trip to Morgantown. But that's doubtful.

That means that, by the end of the season, WVU will have played two teams that end up in the Top 25: Rutgers and South Florida.

So that's it for statement opportunities. Blowout wins over Syracuse, Pitt, UConn, and Louisville—should they come—will not and probably should not impress voters.

So the statements must start Friday night in Tampa, against the amped-out-of-their-minds South Florida Bulls.

Who will no doubt play as if they'd mainlined Red Bull.

If WVU is to maintain its No. 5 ranking and have a chance to climb in the polls, it must make the most of its games against ranked opponents. Southern Cal dominated a ranked team—Nebraska. LSU dominated a ranked team—Virginia Tech. Florida dominated a ranked team—Tennessee.

I would argue that South Florida would have made a better opponent than any of those vanquished foes.

Which is why the time is now for WVU.

Or, more specifically, the time is 8 p.m. on Friday.