A short week is next challenge for West Virginia

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The short week will force West Virginia to move on from the team's fifth consecutive loss, coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday.

The Mountaineers -- now playing for bowl eligibility on the heels of a five-game slide -- face Iowa State on the road at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

"That's why I like the short week. There's no time to sit and ponder," said Holgorsen at his weekly news conference. "There's no time to sit there and ponder what-if's. It's a matter of getting out there and get back to work, and we're forced to do that this week."

West Virginia needs one more win in its final two games -- Iowa State followed by Kansas at home Dec. 1 -- to become bowl eligible.

"Bowl games are rewards. You get to a level where a bowl game is much more than a reward. We're not at that stage right now," Holgorsen said. "We're at the stage where we're playing for the betterment of the program. We win a couple games, we get to a good bowl game, we get to practice for another month."

The Big 12 has tie-ins to eight bowl games.

The Fiesta Bowl takes the winner of the conference, and next best team plays in the Cotton Bowl against the Southeastern Conference.

The selection order for the following six bowl games goes: the Alamo Bowl against the Pac-12, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against the Big Ten, the Holiday Bowl (Pac-12), the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Big Ten), the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Big East) and the Heart of Dallas Bowl (Big Ten).

Austin makes them sick

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, the former Pitt defensive coordinator, joked Monday that watching Tavon Austin light up the field for 572 all-purpose yards on Saturday made his staff ill.

Rhoads watched the game tape Saturday night and saw Austin was lining up in the backfield.

"Then soon after that we vomited," said Rhoads on Monday's Big 12 coaches call.

He said preparing for Austin in the backfield will be a tall task.

The Mountaineers travel to Iowa on Thanksgiving then play the Cyclones on Friday, the final game of the regular season for Rhoads' team.

"It's a pain in the rear end, especially with a six-day work week," Rhoads said. "He's a very, very special player. Now you've got to spend the time to make sure you're ready for it, aligned for it, give your kids at least a chance to try and tackle him."

Biletnikoff finalist

Receiver Stedman Bailey was named one of three finalists for the prestigious Biletnikoff Award for the nation's outstanding receiver on Monday along with Southern California's Marqise Lee and Baylor's Terrance Williams.

Bailey said Holgorsen told him at practice.

"Coach Holgorsen pulled me off to the side during practice and whispered it in my ear," said Bailey. "I automatically got excited, because it is a tremendous honor. It is a blessing to have my name with the other two finalists."

Bailey has 20 touchdowns for West Virginia this season, 88 catches and 1,260 receiving yards.

Big games vs. WVU

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones was named Big 12 offensive player of the week on Monday after Jones threw six touchdowns and amassed a school-record 554 passing yards in a 50-49 win at West Virginia.

That marked the fifth consecutive game that a West Virginia opponent has been given the league's offensive award after facing the Mountaineers.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published November 20, 2012 5:00 AM


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