West Virginia begins a new era in their football history as they join the Big 12 Conference. The Mountaineers will be a very long road trip for everyone in the league, but this means all their road trips will also be very lengthy. This should put them at a bit of a disadvantage. The Mountaineers come over from the Big East Conference which is a better basketball conference than it is a football conference. So the Mountaineers are stepping up in class.
West Virginia brings a very talented team to the Big 12. They are coming off an Orange Bowl win a year ago that can only be described as a butt-kicking of Clemson. Quarterback Geno Smith returns to see if he can improve on his 31 touchdowns and 4385 yards from a year ago. That will be difficult. Smith played about as well as a quarterback can play last year. Dustin Garrison returns to lead the rushing attack. He ran 742 yards and 6 TDs last year.
Tavon Austin is one of the most electrifying players in college football. He caught 101 passes a year ago for 1186 yards and 8 TDs. He is also a run threat and return threat. Some feel he should be WVU’s Heisman candidate perhaps over even Smith.
The defense is perhaps going to be their weakness. They will be breaking in a new front seven. But the Big 12 is not really a defense oriented conference, so WVU may be able to get away with a less than stellar defense. It is likely all they will need to do is slow people down a bit and let their offense put up video game numbers.
The schedule starts out fairly easy with an opener against Marshall, then an open date followed by James Madison and Maryland. Then comes October. They start at Texas, at Texas Tech then home against Kansas State. Then November starts with TCU, then at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, at Iowa State and Kansas to close it out.
Going into places like Austin, Texas and Lubbock, Texas will be unlike anywhere the Mountaineers are used to playing. The trips are long, it will be hot, and football is serious business in Texas and Oklahoma. It’s not Syracuse or Connecticut.
Intertops has the over/under for wins at 8.5 for the Mountaineers. With Marshall, JMU and Maryland, they should have three in September. October could be tricky though. They may only get one win. So that would mean they would need five wins in November. Even if they get two October wins, then needing four in November is still not going to be easy. Kansas and Iowa State are games they should win, but would still need two of three against TCU, OSU and OU.
We recommend you take the under. 8-4 would be a nice first year in the Big 12 for WVU.