WVU Football: Season Preview and Game Predictions
The Mountaineers have had a few mediocre seasons since going 10-3 in their 2011 Big East campaign. Could this year be a little different? I won’t say no, but I won’t say yes either.
Offense: Ever since the departure of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey, the WVU offense has yet to reach the consistency it used to have. We’re talking about a team that beat Clemson 70-33. Just this past season, WVU only put up 16 points on a beaten up Texas squad. The lack of offensive consistency is what I think will hurt them as the season progresses. In a conference that literally is all offense, that’s something Head Coach Dana Holgerson needs to figure out fairly quickly.
Defense: On the defensive side of things, the Mountaineers could own one of the best defenses in program history. They have nine returning starters and nine of their ten top returning tacklers. The biggest hit to the defense was losing lineman Shaquille Riddick to the Arizona Cardinals in the 4th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The strong point of WVU’s defense will be the linebackers. Outside Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski had 103 tackles last season to lead the Mountaineers. All Big 12 SS Karl Joseph also returns for the Mountaineers. Last season he attributed 92 tackles (second on the team) and 1 INT. With Joseph, Worley, and Chestnut, this looks to be one of the Big 12’s most promising defenses yet.
Overall: I must give credit where credit is due. The only blowout loss WVU suffered last season was a 17 point deficit to Texas. They generally were able to hang around with Alabama, TCU, Baylor, and Kansas State. If there’s a sleeper team in the Big 12 this year, I think that edge goes to WVU. They struggle with consistency and have a tendency of easing up when the opponents aren’t as tough (such as 2014 Texas..), but if they find a groove, watch out.
Game 1: WVU vs. Georgia Southern
The only reason I see WVU having a chance at losing this game is because they will go in expecting an easy victory. I’ve got news for ya Mounties! Georgia Southern went 9-3 in 2014. They lost by one point to NC State in their opener and beat Savannah State 83-9 the next week. Oh and how about the third week? They lost to Georgia Tech by four points! If this team starts out that strong again, they could potentially pose the Mountaineers a threat. There is one huge difference between NC State, Georgia Tech, and WVU, though. Morgantown is one of the toughest places to play in the country, expect that to be the deciding factor. WVU 38, Georgia Southern 27.
Game 2: WVU vs. Liberty
If WVU finds a way to lose this one…yeah I got nothin’. There’s not much I can say about this matchup. The Mountaineers should do nothing less than dominate. WVU 52, Liberty 13.
Game 3: WVU vs. Maryland
The Mountaineers will have home field advantage for the third game in a row, but Maryland will provide a challenge, though. The Terrapins brought in a new defensive coordinator over the off-season, he plans to put them in a 4-3 base scheme with hopes of stopping the run more often than last season. So how will that help against WVU? Well, with a less experienced QB, the Mountaineers are going to lean on the running game a lot this year. Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood, WVU’s leading rushers, will both be back and looking to carry the load offensively. The Maryland offense is also finding their new quarterback, a reason why I give WVU the edge in this game. The Mountaineer defense will be too much for whatever QB takes the reigns. It’ll be close in the first half, but I think WVU pulls away. WVU 34, Maryland 17.
Game 4: WVU at Oklahoma
After starting the season 3-0 at home, WVU faces their first of five Big 12 road games in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma is coming off of an 8-5 season where they got blasted by Clemson 40-6 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. New Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley seems to be leaning towards an Air Raid look, but don’t count out the run game. Running Back Samaje Perine is one of the best in the nation. Last year against WVU he ran for 242 yards. Against Kansas he ran for 427 yards, breaking the NCAA record. The sophomore is expected to have yet another amazing season running the ball. This will put a lot of pressure on the Mountaineer defense for a couple of reasons. With Perine in the backfield, you’re going to have to start putting more men inside the box to try to keep him from busting out big runs. That’s going to help open up the pass game for Oklahoma by creating 1-on-1 matchups with the secondary. With the assumption that Bob Stoops is going to get this team back on track, I think Oklahoma is just going to be too much for WVU to handle, especially in Norman. Oklahoma 41, WVU 27.
Game 5: WVU vs. Oklahoma State
At first glance I gave Oklahoma State a slight advantage over WVU. In fact, I still think they have the slight advantage. Why? A few reasons, but the main one being that WVU will go into this game expecting to win, and that’s going to cause a close game. Oklahoma State has a great quarterback in Mason Rudolph, who stepped in and led the team to a win over Oklahoma and Washington at the end of last season. The defense has five or six all-conference candidates, which is their brightest point and really their only other advantage. WVU’s high-powered defense will feast on the weak running game of Oklahoma State, who just lost their speedy star Tyreek Hill due to a domestic assault charge. In the end, however, I think this one will come down to the final field goal. WVU 30, Oklahoma State 27.
Game 6: WVU at Baylor
This one should be obvious right? Baylor will win by about 14-24 points. That’s what everyone thought last season, too. If you recall, WVU handed Baylor their ONLY loss (41-27) of the season, practically killing their chances for the first College Football Playoff. Fortunately for Baylor, I don’t see that happening two years in a row. WVU has TCU the following week and there’s the chance they’ll be looking ahead for revenge against the Horned Frogs. I think Baylor as a whole is just way too much for the Mountaineers, especially mid-season. The revenge-seeking Bears will have a cake walk. Baylor 49, WVU 31.
Game 7: WVU at TCU
Again, the Horned Frogs will be too much for WVU. Not to mention that this game is being played at TCU, so that really doesn’t help. It’ll be close early, but Boykin will easily take care of business in the second half. I mean, TCU beat Ole Miss 42-3 in the Peach Bowl last season and really didn’t lose anyone too important. That’s scary. TCU 48, WVU 24.
Game 8: WVU vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech has struggled for about two seasons now. When Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury stepped in, he went 7-0. Since then, the team has gone 5-13 with wins against Arizona State, UTEP, Central Arkansas, Iowa State, and Kansas. Not a very bright-looking future if you ask me. The only thing that the Red Raiders have going for them is their offense. Once they get their offense going, it’s very hard to stop. The Mountaineers are very familiar with this after losing to Texas Tech 49-14 in 2012. WVU was undefeated and ranked 5th in the nation at the time. So what does WVU have to do to prevent that from happening again? Well, I think it’s going to come down to how fast they get out of the gates. If it’s a one touchdown game at halftime, don’t count out a comeback from the Red Raiders. Anything more should be pretty manageable for WVU. From the defensive perspective, Tech has many returning players. The down side is that they’ll be learning a new system under their new Defensive Coordinator, and we never know how that will work out. So here’s what I think: WVU will be coming off a blowout loss to Baylor and TCU. The Mountaineers are going to be hungry for a win, but not hungry enough to pull away quickly in the first half. I think this one stays within two touchdowns the whole game. WVU 42, Texas Tech 34.
Game 9: WVU vs. Texas
The 2014 matchup between these two teams was a blowout in a very unexpected direction. The Mountaineers were never able to convert on their drives, and Texas wound up holding them to just 16 points. WVU outgained the Longhorns on offense by quite a bit, but still managed to take a 17-point loss. Fortunately for WVU I think this years matchup will be much closer, but with seven home games, you have to lose one. Texas comes into this season with higher expectations than last years 6-7 campaign. As we all know, Texas tends to bring in great players, it’s just a matter of what Charlie Strong does with them. If he can get his team to buy in on the offensive and defensive game plans, I think Texas can be dangerous by the time they play WVU. A Big 12 contender? Not close. But I do think they have what it takes to pull off the upset when they visit Morgantown. Texas 34, WVU 31.
Game 10: WVU at Kansas
No chance WVU loses this one. There’s a good chance they’ll either be on a two-game win streak or they’ll be trying to avenge their loss versus Texas. Plus, it’s Kansas. Hopefully the Mountaineers can find a way to get in their groove early and leave no doubt. Kansas has gone 2-37 in their last 39 Big 12 games, with one of those wins coming against WVU, but I just don’t see that happening at all this time around. The Jayhawks will be lucky to put up a fight against Iowa State. They have no returning “stars” and have a new head coach in a terrible position. I think we all know where I’m going with this so I’ll get to the score. WVU 44, Kansas 20.
Game 11: WVU vs. Iowa State
Iowa State Head Coach Paul Rhoads will be entering his seventh year, currently sitting on the hot seat with a 29-46 career record. With that being said, he probably isn’t going to get much help as far as boosting his chances of keeping his job after this year. In fact, I’m not really sure how he still has it other than a few upset victories here and there. Anyways, the Cyclones have their work cut out for them when they go up to Morgantown. In 2014, ISU had an NCAA-worst defense that allowed 528 yards per game. Do that against WVU and you’re going to stand no chance, especially with how great the Mountaineer defense will be this year. I’d hate to be a Cyclone fan this year. WVU 45, Iowa State 24.
Game 12: WVU at Kansas State
Here’s where the Mountaineers winning streak will face its toughest opponent. Kansas State’s only real losses were QB Jake Waters and WR Tyler Lockett. Lockett is a big loss, but it gets made up for on the offensive line, who has four returning seniors. Three of the top five defenders are in the secondary, so they should be fine when it comes to defense. The new quarterback should be comfortable by the time WVU comes to town for the last game of the regular season. Kansas State could easily upset Baylor or TCU earlier in the season, giving them a shot at a share of the conference title. I think this one will be close, however, but I’m giving the edge to the Wildcats. K State 38, WVU 35.
WVU could have a great year in the Big 12, but just as they have in the past couple of seasons, I feel as if they will finish in the middle of the pack. If the conference had a dark horse for the title race, I’d give that to the Mountaineers. They have the potential to upset anyone they play, it’s just a matter of whether or not they do. The defense this season will most likely be the best that Dana Holgerson has ever had. The offense, well, they have some work to do. Holgerson is known for his high-powered offenses, though, so you can’t count them out just yet. The more wins WVU has at the end of the season, I think the less likely they are to win their bowl game. The more wins, the tougher the opponent. The tougher the opponent, the better the offense and defense you’ll have to face. Regardless, WVU will have another winning season in the Big 12. It’d be almost impossible for them not to.
Final Regular Season Record: 7-5, 4-5 in Big 12 play
Best Possible: 9-3, (6-3)
Worst Possible: 6-6, (3-6)
Casey covers NCAA Football for MFST. You can follow him on twitter @wxmozz.https://www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wvu-football-season-preview-and-game-predictions/https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/a10.jpg?fit=620%2C436&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/a10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1AnalysisBig 12FootballNCAAFNews and UpdatesRecent PostsBig 12 football,WVU,WVU footballThe Mountaineers have had a few mediocre seasons since going 10-3 in their 2011 Big East campaign. Could this year be a little different? I won't say no, but I won't say yes either. Offense: Ever since the departure of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey, the WVU offense has...Casey MosrieCasey Mosriecaseymosrie@gmail.comContributorI attend Marshall University and follow college football and basketball.MyFantasySportsTalk