AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State never wanted to reach the point where it had to beat West Virginia on the day after Thanksgiving to become bowl eligible.
The Cyclones took care of that by winning their sixth game last weekend.
But it's not as if the Mountaineers are nearly as scary as they looked to be in early October, either.
West Virginia (5-5, 2-5 in the Big 12) has fallen from the top 10 to the Big 12 basement in five long weeks. Now it's the Mountaineers who need to beat Iowa State (6-5, 3-5) just to reach a bowl game - not the other way around.
"You get to a level where a bowl game is much more than a reward - we are not at that stage right now. We are at the stage where we are playing for the betterment of the program," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "If we win a couple of games and get to a good bowl game, we get to practice for another month. That will help us out for the program."
The Cyclones have themselves yet another quarterback controversy. But coach Paul Rhoads might have an uprising in the stands at Jack Trice Stadium if he doesn't start redshirt freshman Sam Richardson.
Richardson became the third Iowa State quarterback responsible for a victory last week when he came off the bench to lead Iowa State to a 51-23 win at Kansas.
Richardson looked so good in his debut that he spurred hope that the Cyclones have found their quarterback of the future. He completed 23 of 27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns after relieving senior Steele Jantz.
Rhoads wouldn't commit to starting Richardson against the Mountaineers, but he did say the freshman had the edge over Jantz after his dazzling performance in Lawrence.
"You have to always be ready for an opportunity, and when it comes you have to seize it," Richardson said. "Still working practice with the same mentality that I'll have an opportunity to be out on the field."
West Virginia's main problem isn't hard to spot. The Mountaineers' defense has yet to prove it can stop anyone in the Big 12.