By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
West Virginia University no longer is a Top 25 football team.
The Mountaineers (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) dropped completely out of the Associated Press and USA Today poll rankings this week after Saturday’s 39-38 double-overtime loss to TCU.
They now have lost three consecutive games in the Big 12 Conference. WVU had swept its first five contests of the season and was ranked No. 5 nationally.
It is possibly the longest drop in WVU football history and there are just four games remaining on the regular-season schedule.
West Virginia returns to action as an underdog this Saturday at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have been installed as 7 1/2-point favorites.
The kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and ABC will televise the action.
Meantime, the Mountaineers continue to work hard in an all-out effort to get better and end their disastrous three-game losing streak.
Oklahoma State (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) is coached by Mike Gundy, in his eighth season at the school. His record is 55-33 to date.
The Cowboys were 12-1 last year and champions of the Fiesta Bowl. Fifty lettermen, including 19 starters, have returned from 2011.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia’s second-year head coach, said his team has got to improve. It has not been nearly as productive as it was during the first five contests.
“What we’ve done (offensively) the last three weeks is totally unacceptable,” he declared. “I thought we played very well defensively.
“The season’s not over. We’ll get back to work (Sunday). I can’t say enough about what our defense accomplished over the last two weeks.”
Switching Cecil Level from cornerback to safety for Saturday’s game was a major change that worked out well. He is a senior transfer after two years at WVU Tech.
Level, making his first start, made five tackles and also forced a fumble which set up a WVU scoring drive. He replaced Darwin Cook in the lineup.
“Cecil gave great effort in practice every day of the bye week,” Holgorsen explained.
As for the TCU defeat, Holgorsen recalled, “They tackled a lot better than we blocked and they whipped us up front.”