West Virginia Football

The West Virginia Mountaineers finished up the 2013 campaign with an overall record of 4-8 and went just 2-7 inside Big 12 play (T-7th). It put an end to the Mountaineers 11-year bowl streak.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen will be entering his 4th season on the job in Morgantown and he’s certainly feeling the pressure to get West Virginia back on track. Last year’s decline was expected given the Mountaineers lost star quarterback Geno Smith and two dynamic receivers in Tavon Austin and Stedman Baily. It certainly didn’t help matters that West Virginia was hit hard by the injury bug and got little to nothing out of the quarterback position.

Last Season
Big 12
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
2014 West Virginia Mountaineers Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
8/30 Alabama (Atlanta)
9/6 Towson
9/13 @ Maryland
9/20 Oklahoma
10/4 Kansas
10/11 @ Texas Tech
10/18 Baylor
10/25 @ Oklahoma St
11/1 TCU
11/8 @ Texas
11/20 Kansas State
11/29 @ Iowa State
Estimated Wins: 3.70

This season the Mountaineers get back 13 starters and return 47 of 60 lettermen from last year, but will have to overcome the loss of a couple of 3rd round NFL draft picks in running back Charles Sims and defensive end Will Clarke. They also lose talented safety Darwin Cook, who finished second on the team in tackles and had a team-high 4 interceptions.

Even though the roster as a whole is more experienced, I have my concerns with the Mountaineers showing enough improvement to escape the bottom half of the Big 12. Of the 5 starters lost on offense, 3 come up front on the offensive line. They also have just two starters back in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball and must overcome the loss of their best player. There’s also still major question marks surrounding the quarterback position. They get back a couple of experienced seniors in Clint Trickett and Paul Millard, but neither impressed me in 2013. On the bright side of things, West Virginia will be adding an extremely talented running back in Pittsburgh’s Rushell Shell.

One of the key things I like to look at to get an idea of where a team may be headed is the previous year’s yard per point and West Virginia fits the bill of a team that should be on the upswing in 2014. The Mountaineers had a 15.6 ypp on offense and 13.7 ypp on defense. Both of these were below the national average and more times than not teams will regress back to the mean.

Another factor pointing in the right direction for the Mountaineers is that they finished last year with a -4 turnover margin, which was quite a decline from their +7 turnover margin in 2012. This is another area where teams tend to even out of the years and it’s no secret how important turnovers are to winning football games.

The problem facing West Virginia and their hopes of bouncing back in 2014, is a schedule that ranks as one of the toughest in the country. For starters, the Mountaineers have to open up the season with a neutral site showdown against Alabama. They also have to go on the road to face Maryland in non-conference play. West Virginia does benefit from getting to play 5 of their 9 Big 12 games at home, but that’s negated by the fact that four of those come against contenders in Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State in TCU. It’s going to take something special from Holgorsen and his staff to overcome this.

Regular Season Win Total
Big 12 Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
80 to 1
500 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Season Predictions

While there are several signs suggesting West Virginia should improve on last year’s 4-8 record, the most important thing for a team to turn it around is the schedule and that’s clearly not in their favor. Not only do I think the schedule will be too much to overcome, I don’t think the talent is there for this team to compete with the better teams in the Big 12. I’m giving West Virginia a win at home over Kansas inside conference play and a victory against Towson and that’s it. With a predicted record of 2-10, I highly recommend a play on the Mountaineers to finish UNDER their posted win total of 4.5.

You might assume that due to the fact that I’m only picking West Virginia to win 2 games, that this will be a team that I will be looking to fade against the spread. That’s not the case at all. I actually believe the Mountaineers will show a profit ATS in 2014. This team is clearly not getting any respect and will likely be a big dog on several occasions. While it might not be by much, the offense will be improved and that should lead to them being more competitive, plus it will open for several backdoor covers.

2014 Projections
Big 12
Big 12 Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
More College Football Predictions
Big 12
West Virginia
 Iowa State

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