At the start of the season any bowl game would have been viewed as a huge success for West Virginia. The Mountaineers have now played four games and are coming off of a bye week heading into a brutal October schedule. West Virginia sits at 3-1 and have looked promising in the last two weeks, but the fact is that the talent isn’t there.
Perhaps the most promising bright spot is Neal Brown as a game manager. His recruiting was unquestioned but his ability to win a game was. Through four games I’ve seen nothing that suggests he can’t coach a football team to a win. In West Virginia’s opener against James Madison halftime adjustments won the game. And in the last two times out, it’s been the creative offensive play-calling that has seemed to guide the Mountaineers offense in the right direction.
Looking ahead to a rough October, what should we expect for the season? Up first, the Mountaineers host Texas and it will be an interesting game. I don’t think WVU can actually win, but I would not be surprised if it is close the whole way out. This one is the Super Bowl for West Virginia and they want nothing more to end Texas playoff hopes before they even start.
Before the season, this next matchup didn’t seem like a winnable game. However, through four games, Iowa State now seems very beatable. The Cyclones killed the Mountaineers last year, but haven’t looked impressive so far this year. This one is a toss up, I’ll give west Virginia the benefit of the doubt.
West Virginia’s chances of beating Oklahoma on the road are slim, they’re at the top of the conference. A bye week followed up by a tough road game against Baylor in Waco and I think WVU is most likely at 4-4 heading into November.
The slate in November looks a bit better than the October slate, and if West Virginia can rebound, there might be a couple of wins here. Texas Tech at home is a possible win, The Red Raiders have been all over the place. They’ve looked a lot better than West Virginia and also looked a lot worse. That one may be a toss up. However, if they get quarterback Alan Bowman back in time, this game will get a lot tougher.
Kansas State looked great up until Oklahoma State last week. By November they should be figured out and back to their early-season form. Especially as they should have receiver Malik Knowles back by then. This one is a toss up too.
Oklahoma State then comes to Morgantown. The Cowboys have a dynamic rushing attack that up until the Texas game looked like it might have broken the Mountaineers in half. Even then, the Pokes still put down 226 rushing yards in the loss. Chances of a West Virginia win here aren’t great, but it’s possible.
The Mountaineers finish the season at TCU who has their fair share of issues. However, that defense, minus the SMU game, looks pretty good, and the offense might be finding its stride under freshman quarterback Max Duggan. Again, I think this game is winnable, but it’ll be tough.
All in all, with three or four winnable games left, I predict West Virginia wins at least two more games for a 6-6, maybe 5-7 season. I think the first third of the season has shown that Neal Brown is a legit game caller, but West Virginia still has some holes on the roster. A lot of things have changed since August, but I think the expectations stay the same. A bowl game would be a huge positive for West Virginia.