West Virginia football lacks Top 25 success in College Football Playoff era

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The transition to the College Football Playoff era has not necessarily been a kind one to West Virginia football.

The CFP was introduced in the 2014 season, and has changed the landscape of the College Football postseason ever since. Now, another massive shift in the postseason will occur as the CFP will expand to twelve teams in 2024. 

As WVU hopes to compete at the top of the new-look Big 12 with the departure of perennial national powers Oklahoma and Texas, they’ll hope to sustain some success and earn their first-ever CFP bid. However, their success since the playoff was introduced is less than desirable.

The Mountaineers have earned just two finishes in the final Top 25 poll in the ten years of the system’s existence. Of the 70 current Power Four conference schools (including Washington State, Oregon State, and Notre Dame), 34 programs have managed more Top 25 finishes, including six of the current 16 schools in the Big 12 and both former Big 12 schools who have spent the entirety of the CFP era in the league until now. Two Group of Five programs (Boise State, Navy) have also had more appearances.

In addition, WVU has managed to appear in the CFP polls during just 14 weeks in total -- 38 power conference programs have more total poll appearances as well as Boise State and Memphis. This puts WVU ninth out of the 16 current Big 12 schools in that category.

Both of the team’s appearances in the final poll came during the Dana Holgorsen era, as Neal Brown has failed to finish the season with a CFP Top 25 team during his coaching tenure. He likely came close to earning that achievement last fall with a 9-4 record -- his best yet -- but WVU didn’t quite earn the nod. In 2024, WVU will look to take advantage of a Big 12 without two of it’s historically best programs and a roster loaded with returning weapons to begin to change this narrative and earn their first Top 25 finish in a good while.