West Virginia was the surprise team in the Big 12 last year, starting the season 6-0 before losing to both Oklahoma schools and finishing 10-3. The 10 wins bought HC Dana Holgersen some time but with just eight returning starters and 35 returning lettermen over all, it figures to be a long 2017 in Morgantown.
Holgersen obviously saw the writing on the wall and has gone the Juco route to make up for a lack of veterans and overall experience. The nonconference schedule has been upgraded with a neutral field game versus Virginia Tech and their conference road games are loaded with trips to TCU, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma.
The forecast for 2017 is not positive. The Mounties figure to get out of the gate 3-1 but then face as much improved TCU and Texas Tech. WVU closes with at Kansas State, Texas, and at Oklahoma so the Mounties get no love in November. Assuming they beat Iowa State at home which is not a given, Holgersen will need to beat Baylor and Tech just to get bowl eligible.
Last Season Conference Records & Results
WVU 2017 Schedule: Conference & Non-Conference Opponents
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|9/3||* Virginia Tech|
|10/14||Texas Tech (HC)|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
West Virginia opens its season against ACC Coastal Division co-favorite Virginia Tech at Landover. The Hokies are expected to contend for the ACC title and the Mounties will clearly be out-manned here. WVU then plays two confidence builders at home as they host East Carolina and Delaware State. WVU plays its first true road game at Kansas in a game they should and must win before their bye.
The Mountaineers fave the meat of their schedule after their off week which starts with a road game at TCU. The Mountie season will be determined in their next two games with a homecoming date with Texas Tech and their key road game of the year at Baylor. These games, plus the Iowa State game are critical as WVU will likely be at least three touchdown underdogs at Kansas State and to both Oklahoma schools.
With just an outside shot at getting bowl eligible, this team will need to take care of its business against the teams they should beat and win their two or three coin tosses along the way. An improbable win over Virginia Tech (-6) in its opener would go a long way in making sure the Mountaineers secure a fourth straight bowl bid.
West Virginia Depth Chart, Recruiting & Roster Breakdown
Last year’s Mountie offense centered around quarterback Skylar Howard who finished his career with 7300 yards passing and 60 touchdown passes. Florida transfer Will Grier will take his place and last year’s top rusher, Justin Crawford (1184, 7.3, 4 TDs), is back behind three returning offensive linemen. KaRuan White is a senior and the top returning wide out 48 grabs for 583 yards and 5 scores. The return of Jake Spavital as OC after a stint at Cal could open things up.
The defense was the Mountaineers biggest question mark last year and responded by posting better statistical numbers for the fourth straight year. This year just three starters return but one is a possible all-conference safety Dravon Askew-Henry. The defensive line is the big problem with not returning starters and this is where the infusion of Juco talent will have to step up.
Last year, seniors accounted for over 60% of WVU total starts, third highest in the FBS. A certain amount of re-tooling was necessary and this year WVU pays the price.
Future Odds to Win the Big 12 & College Football Playoff
Regular Season Win Total
Big 12 Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
2017 WVU Football Expert Full Season Projections
This is clearly a rebuilding year in Morgantown. The Mountaineers caught every break last year from their three-point win over BYU, to a 17-16 upset of Kansas State and field goal wins at Texas and over Baylor. Lightning rarely strikes twice in the power five and doesn’t figure to here with a team with little overall experience, an offense that won’t score as many points and a defense that figures to give up a bunch more points. In the end it’s back in the hot seat for Dana Holgersen.
Big 12 Record
Win Total Prediction