Last week I tweeted it.
So far, I’ve nailed every WVU football game via my annual preseason prediction – with the final record prognostication of 6-6.
Yet can the Mountaineers really rally? Can they possibly win three of the last four to become bowl eligible?
Let’s have a little fun to find out.
Certainly, I had no idea West Virginia would have the nation’s No. 128 (of 130) FBS rushing attack at 78.9 yards a game. (Only Purdue and Akron are worse.) I had no clue the Mountaineers would be No. 120 (302.3 yards per game) in total offense.
So I thought I’d retrieve the last few game predictions to see what else we didn’t know, update the info and see if a WVU bowl bid is indeed a realistic outcome.
First, check out my preseason paragraph on this Saturday’s noon ESPN2 game in Morgantown:
“Nov. 9, Texas Tech at WVU– Don’t be surprised if this turns into a good game. Even though Tech lost coach Kliff Kingsbury to the Arizona Cardinals, it returns underrated QB Alan Bowman. The Red Raiders will score points. Also – shocker alert – Tech will be OK on defense this season. Another coin flip. WVU, 31-30.”
Bowman was injured early in the season against Arizona, but has been capably replaced by freshman Jett Duffey, who is fifth in the Big 12 in passing yards a game (236.7) yet ninth in efficiency. (WVU QB Austin Kendall isn’t in the top 10 in efficiency.) Duffey led Tech to an upset of then-No. 21 Oklahoma State. As for Tech’s defense, well, it is No. 8 in the Big 12, two clicks below West Virginia.
As of today, Vegas had Tech as a 1.5-point favorite, although the Sagarin ratings say WVU should be a 2-point favorite. I’ll stick with the Mountaineers in a close one.
That would put West Virginia at 4-5. Next? Let’s go back to the preseason prediction.
“Nov. 16, WVU at Kansas State– Gone is revered K-State coach Bill Snyder. And only your soothsayer knows what new coach Chris Klieman has in store for the Big 12. Expect Wildcat junior quarterback Skylar Thompson to have a fine year. He fits what Klieman did – run the QB – at North Dakota State. If the Mountaineers can keep Kendall upright, though, West Virginia wins another close one. WVU, 21-17.”
If you saw K-State stun Oklahoma by 48-41, you know Thompson is doing just fine. He had 213 yards passing and ran for four TDs in that game. On the season, he has 331 yards rushing. Senior running back James Gilbert is fifth in the Big 12 in rushing, averaging 79.7 yards.
What catches the eye about K-State, though, is that No. 2 scoring defense within the Big 12. The Wildcats are No. 43 nationally in total defense.
So, yeah, it will be tough for West Virginia to travel to Manhattan and win against what is now the No. 20 team in the Associated Press poll. Sagarin’s ratings suggest the Mountaineers would be a 13-point underdog if they played this week.
Moving on. Here is my preseason call on the OSU game:
“Nov. 23, Oklahoma State at WVU– Expect OSU to enter this game as a slight favorite. Mike Gundy, however, will have to solve his quarterback dilemma by then. Does he start freshman Spencer Sanders? Does he start senior Dru Brown? Does he play both? Can WVU’s defense exploit the situation? Can the Mountaineer offense exploit OSU’s thin linebacking corps? Should be a fun game. WVU, 42-40.”
The answer was prized four-star QB Sanders, the Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year and Mr. Texas Football. And he’s played well, throwing for an average of 210.8 yards and running for another 65.3. OSU is No. 2 in the Big 12 in total offense (500) and No. 3 in scoring offense (37.1 points). And the kicker – or runner, if you will – is Chuba Hubbard isn’t just the Big 12’s leading rusher, but the nation’s leading rusher – by a lot. Hubbard is averaging 178.2 yards, while No. 2 AJ Dillon of Boston College is at 142.9.
According to Sagarin today, WVU would be an 8.5-point underdog against OSU.
And, last, there’s this:
“Nov. 29, WVU at TCU – If you’re looking for a dark-horse contender for the Big 12 championship game, TCU, not ISU, is your team. Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson may be the league’s best. And he’s followed 7-win or worse seasons with records of 10-2, 11-1 and 11-3. If TCU enters as a touchdown favorite, stay away if you’re a Mountaineer fan. TCU, 40-21.
Final WVU regular season record: 6-6.”
The Horned Frogs have surprised me – and not in a good way. They lost games to SMU, Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State and are now 4-4. That’s not Pattersonian at all.
What is Pattersonian is TCU’s defense, which is No. 1 within the Big 12 in total, No. 2 against the pass and No. 3 against the run. Quarterback Max Duggan and back Darius Anderson are the biggest offensive threats. As of today, WVU would be an 11-point underdog.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m holding tight to my 6-6 prediction. I own my calls.
Just know, unless the line swings back to the Mountaineers this week, WVU will probably be underdogs in its last four games.
We shall see.
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