For three of the last four years, the Mountaineers have opened up their season against a Power 5 opponent, and in about 3 months, they’ll face Tennessee out of the gate.
It’s a bold strategy to open the season with a game that could define your entire year, and the results have been mixed for West Virginia. They lost to Alabama in 2014 and lost to Virginia Tech last season, but they beat Missouri in 2016.
They have a chance to contend for the conference behind quarterback Will Grier, but any post season dreams could be derailed before they even get started. Then again, a big win could put them right into the national conversation. It’s high risk, high reward, and I asked Holgorsen his thoughts behind the strategy.
“We’re going to play power five schools,” Holgorsen said. “I know Commissioner Bowlsby sat up here and gave you the stats on the number of power five schools that everybody plays. We are very proud of that. At WV we play 11 power five schools, NC State and Tennessee, along with the nine Big 12 opponents.
“I wish everybody would do that. It’s not quite fair that we have to play that schedule and then you have schools in other respective conferences that play nine. They play nine power five schools. It’s uneven, but we’re going to keep doing it. It’s fair to our fan base to be able to play local schools that they remember great games in the past. Tennessee, never played them, but they’re our neighbor and we’re going to play that game in Charlotte which is our number one alumni base in the United States.
“So it’s going to be exciting for everybody. Our players are excited. Our fan base is excited about it. We got Pitt and the old backyard brawl is going to be coming on the schedule. Penn State is going to be coming on the schedule. Maryland, we’re going to play ten or eleven power 5 schools every year. I wish the other teams would do that as well. It’s good for the fan base, good for TV. It’s good for everything.”