Over the past two weeks, Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon of ESPN’s Big 12 Blog have laid out the best- and worst-case scenarios for each member of the Big 12 Conference if everything or nothing goes right over the course this year.
The tongue-in-cheek predictions have events like Baylor moving back to Floyd Casey Stadium after structural problems with the new McLane Stadium and Texas Tech Red Raiders’ coach Kliff Kingsbury joining “The Bachelorette” on ABC.
West Virginia’s best case scenario sees the team beating the Georgia Bulldogs in the Cotton Bowl to complete an 11-2 season, but other end of the spectrum sees Dana Holgorsen leaving for Texas Tech after a second straight 4-8 season. However, these scenarios predicted for West Virginia should be taken a little more seriously as they’re not far what could actually happen for the Mountaineers.
First, it would take a great deal of pregame refreshments outside the Georgia Dome for West Virginia fans to believe the possibility of a double-digit win over Alabama, the standard barrier for college football programs. With all offseason to plan for Holgorsen’s offensive attack and fume over their Sugar Bowl loss to the Oklahoma Sooners, it makes sense for all signs to point to an Alabama win this August in Atlanta, but something a bit more conservative than a 20-point beat down in West Virginia’s season opener.
West Virginia seems likely to bounce back from an Alabama loss for back-to-back wins against the Towson Tigers in the home opener on September 6 and a road win over the Maryland Terrapins in College Park on September 13, unless the team performs similar to last year’s game in Baltimore.
Despite coming up short in their first two meetings as conference rivals, West Virginia has the experience and talent, especially at the running back position, to score the team’s first victory over Oklahoma since the 2008 Fiesta Bowl and the first 3-1 start since 2011.
After an assumed victory over Kansas the first weekend of October, the remainder of the month will bring tall tasks for both the West Virginia offense and defense as the team travels to face Texas Tech in Lubbock and Oklahoma State in Stillwater with a home game against defending Big 12 champion Baylor sandwiched between them. It looks as if West Virginia could take two of three games with road victories at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, but Baylor will once again slice and dice the Mountaineer defense for a third straight year.
The month of November should begin successfully just like October for West Virginia as the team wins their second straight game against the TCU Horned Frogs and returns to Austin to knock off the Texas Longhorns just as Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey did in 2012.
Since joining the Big 12, Kansas State has outscored West Virginia by a 90-26 score in the first two meetings, but even though the score might be closer than in previous meetings, the Wildcats will take a third straight win against West Virginia on a cold November night in Morgantown.
West Virginia’s season finale victory over Iowa State in Ames seals the team’s first nine-win season since 2010 and a berth into one of the Big 12’s stable of bowl games like the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or the Valley of the Sun Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.
The 9-3 regular season record seems more plausible than the predicted 10-2 season in the best-case scenario or the 4-8 losing season, but one of the scenarios mentioned by Chatmon is possible if the latter does happen this year.
If 2014 ends with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the Frank Cignetti era, the scenario of Holgorsen ending up at Texas Tech or any place other than Morgantown next year for that matter might be not far from reality for West Virginia.