Game week is upon us and no preseason is complete without predictions to how the Mountaineers will fare. EerSports' Dave Morrison and Chris Anderson break down how they each see West Virginia's season going in their first year in the Big 12.
vs Marshall, September 1st
This game will go the same way the rest of the Friends of Coal Bowls have gone. West Virginia will have more than enough defense to bottle up the Herd.
Chris: I look for the offense to pick up right where it left off, with Geno connecting early and often with Tavon and Stedman. Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie will see solid action carrying the ball as the Mountaineers pull away before the half.
Lots of young guys and backups will see the field after halftime and Marshall may even score a few times, but I expect this series to end with total blowout.
vs James Madison, September 15th
Dave: The Dukes have two chances in this game at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. Slim and none, and slim just walked out the door.
While the game site wasn’t meant with a lot of hype, mainly because it was taken out of Morgantown, it is a drivable trip. Should be a good chance for fans to get a good, long look at Paul Millard at quarterback.
Chris: I look for this one to get out of hand early as well, except there won't be any offense coming back from James Madison, a DI-AA opponent. A familiar sight for fans on this Saturday will be Paul Millard handing off to D'Vontis Arnold repeatedly in the second half.
vs Maryland, September 22nd
Dave: The Terps travel to Morgantown for what is the last nonconference game of the year. And it won’t be much of a contest as Geno Smith continues to ravage opposing offense, and the defense gets a final opportunity to tune up before the Big XXII season kicks off.
Chris: I didn't think Maryland had much of a chance before their versatile starting quarterback, C.J. Brown, went down with a torn ACL in the preseason. With two true freshmen - neither highly recruited - as the only options for the Terrapins, their offense could be down right putrid. Add in the fact that they have little to no depth due to a mass exodus of players since head coach Randy Edsall's arrival, and West Virginia's confidence could be sky high heading into Big 12 play.
vs Baylor, September 29th
Dave: There will be a lot of hoopla surrounding not only the first Big XII game but the first Big XII home game.
Fortunately for the Mountaineers defense, Baylor QB and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III is now in Washington. And Geno Smith is still in Morgantown. The Bears may pose a bit of a problem…for awhile
Chris: Baylor on their worst day is going to be better than any of West Virginia's first three opponents. I believe that, combined with some jitters of the first Big12 game, will lead to a bit of a slow start for West Virginia.
In the end, though, the Mountaineers will pull away. Baylor was horrendous on defense last year and needs to replace the majority of their potent offense, including Heisman winner Robert Griffin III.
at Texas, October 6th
Dave: This is the first of a two-week stint in the state of Texas, and more than likely, outside of Oklahoma later in the season, the toughest game on the schedule.
Texas is loaded on defense and will have something to prove to the new kids on the Big XII block. Giving the edge to the Texas defense.
Chris: The Mountaineers are going to be in for a rude awakening when they arrive in Austin. They will face the toughest opponent thus far amidst a crowd of 100,000 screaming fans, all wearing burnt orange.
Texas doesn't have much of an offense, so I don't expect them to pull away, but their defense is one of the best in the country. I think the Mountaineers turn the ball over at some inopportune times and dig themselves a hole they can't get out of.
at Texas Tech, October 13th
Dave: Still in Texas, I don’t look for Dana Holgorsen to take the Mountaineers first loss of the season. And I really can’t see the Mountaineers going 0-for Texas. Mountaineers rebound and make a statement in a state that is quickly becoming a hotbed for the Mountaineers (see Dustin Garrison and Squirt Thompson)
Chris: West Virginia will struggle with the Red Raiders more than people think. Not on offense, mind you, but on defense. Seth Doege is a prolific passer for Texas Tech and I look for him to eat up the Mountaineers defense.
While Doege is good, Geno and company are better. In one of the craziest games of the year, Smith leads a late drive to seal it as the scoreboard operator gets quite the workout.
vs Kansas State, October 20th
Dave: The Mountaineers return to Morgantown for the first time in three weeks. Maybe a little road weary after the long trek to Texas and back, don’t be surprised if it’s a close one. At least for a bit.
The defense starts to mature and play confident.
Chris: West Virginia's offense will be clicking on all cylinders and I don't see the Wildcats slowing them down. Geno Smith will throw for 400 yards and Tavon and Stedman will have 100 a piece and a couple scores.
The issue will be stopping Kansas State's dual-threat quarterback Collin Klein. I picture Klein having a big day - say 200 passing and 150 rushing - but coming up short in the end.
vs TCU, November 3rd
Dave: Last of two two-game home stretches and the Mountaineers will be starting to rev into high gear with a huge game looming with Oklahoma in two weeks.
A game involving two teams that would have been Big East opponents won’t be much of one.
Chris: TCU will be in the midst of a five-game stretch where all five contests are against Top 25 opponents. Three of them will be on the road, including this trip to Morgantown.
On the flip side, West Virginia will be coming off a bye week, rested and ready for the road ahead of them. Gary Patterson's defense will slow the Mountaineers down some, but, in the end, they will pick it up and win.
at Oklahoma State, October 10th
OSU will give WVU a run for its money, which might surprise some, since its top offensive players, QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon are now in the NFL.
Chris: Oklahoma State loses a lot on offense and is going with a true freshman to play quarterback this fall in Wes Lunt. Lunt will also be without several his main offensive threat in Justin Blackmon, who is now playing on Sundays.
On defense, the Cowboys may have led the nation in turnovers, but they were 107th in the country in total defense. Geno Smith and company do a much better job protecting the ball than other spread teams, so I expect them to eat up OSU's defense.
vs Oklahoma, November 17th
Dave: The long awaited showdown in Morgantown will be just that: A showdown of two of the top teams in the Big XXII and the country.
Two of the top QBS in the nation – OSU’s Landry Jones and Smith - showcase their games and it is a shootout. Call it more Mountaineer magic.
Chris: The game will live up to what everyone expected it to be, matching two of the nation's top teams in a marquee Saturday night game. The winner will have a shot at a national title, while the loser will still have an outside chance at a BCS bid.
Since it is such a big game, I expect the school to push a "gold rush," wearing gold-on-gold uniforms and, thus, insuring a loss. In all seriousness, though, I think this will be a good old-fashioned shootout with both teams scoring often and on big plays.
In the end, though, I'm going to give the edge to Oklahoma because I believe the Sooners will control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
at Iowa State, November 23rd
Dave: West Virginia gets to 10 wins as it rolls into the Iowa cornfields like a tornado and blows away the Cyclones.
It is the final road trip of the year, and is the day after Thanksgiving. Unusual, this is the lone non-Saturday game on the schedule.
Chris: Iowa State gets the brunt of Dana Holgorsen's anger from the previous week's missed opportunity, as West Virginia's offense rolls all over the Cyclones. Linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein will each have 15 tackles, but most will occur after the Mountaineers have already gained a significant chunk of yardage.
vs Kansas, December 1st
Dave: The Mountaineers are not likely to slip with a potential BCS berth on the line.
Charlie Weis may have the Jayhawks charged up for a half, but once the West Virginia weather and the West Virginia offense kick in, it will not be a nice welcome to West Virginia for Kansas.
Chris: West Virginia will need to leave an impression on BCS selection committee in order to secure an At-Large berth in the Orange or Fiesta Bowl.
Look for the Mountaineers to do just that, as the offense steamrolls Charlie Weis' Jayhawks in embarrassing fashion on Senior Night.
Dave: It seems like every year I see West Virginia going 11-1. Obviously the offense is going to put up numbers that haven’t been seen in these parts. I think the defense will become good enough to hold opponents down. The new conference will be tougher, and WVU just about has to beat Oklahoma in Morgantown, barring the Sooners falling somewhere else along the way, to have any shot at winning the league in its first season.
Still, I have enough confidence in the offense to get the job done.
Chris: Like Dave, I tend to look at the schedule each year and see maybe one game where the Mountaineers will have a tough time. That always ends with disappointment as they lose a couple games they have no business losing - see Syracuse and Louisville last year - and have a few more close ones against inferior opponents - see Pittsburgh and USF.
So why do I have West Virginia going 10-2 this year? Because I think there is a different mentality in Morgantown. No more playing it safe or trying to do just enough to win. Dana Holgorsen and staff have this team aiming for the jugular.
There will be a lot of close games thanks to the increase in talented opposition, but I do believe the Mountaineers can sneak into an At-Large bid for the BCS.... at least.