CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's Iowa State week for the West Virginia Mountaineers.
You know, the newest Big 12 rival.
That hour-long bus ride from Morgantown to Pittsburgh isn't the shortest trip on the schedule anymore. In the Big 12, WVU's closest conference companion is Iowa State, today's opponent.
According to Google maps, their campuses are 870 miles apart.
At least there's a link to the Backyard Brawl with Cyclones Coach Paul Rhoads.
What, don't remember him? Well, he was the defensive coordinator for Pitt on that historic night of Dec. 1, 2007, when WVU lost 13-9 to its longtime rival even though the Mountaineers were at home ... under the lights ... and 28.5-point favorites.
Hey, here's a scheduling quirk related to that.
After WVU botched its layup to score a ticket to the national championship game, Rich Rodriguez high-tailed it to Michigan and Bill Stewart stepped in, told his gang to never leave their wing man and then watched as WVU stunned Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Who'd a thought that five years later WVU would be in the Big 12 with Oklahoma, and a week after hosting the Sooners in Morgantown the Mountaineers would traverse the country roads - or is it country Rhoads? - to face an old Pitt assistant to get bowl eligible the day after Thanksgiving?
WVU, by the way, played Oklahoma last Saturday, the same day No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon lost. The last time the top two teams in the national rankings lost on the same day?
Dec. 1, 2007, when No. 1 Missouri joined second-ranked WVU in blowing a shot at college football's crown.
That is surely a disappointment that will linger in the minds of Mountaineer fans for quite some time. But that was still a double-digit win, BCS bowl season.
How's 2012 rank for you?
In a Sept. 7 column, I tried to warn college football fans that a collapse could come for West Virginia. At the time, fans were spewing venom over a college football voter who had the audacity to consider WVU something less than a national championship contender.
One week after WVU pounded Marshall in the season opener, Ray Ratto dropped the Mountaineers one spot, from No. 23 to No. 24. There was a Twitter meltdown of epic proportions, but Ratto must've reveled somewhat in the five-game losing streak WVU has endured.