Fade Alert - WVU
August 1, 2013
By Lance Blankenship
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In my first installment of college football pieces, I’m going to analyze the West Virginia win total and I believe this is the best bet of all the college season win totals.
The play is UNDER 6 (-115)
Since I live in the surrounding area and I’m familiar with this program, I believe West Virginia will be lucky to win four games and there is a distinct possibility that the Mountaineers will go 2-10 this fall.
Paul Millard and Florida State transfer Clint Trickett are battling for the starting quarterback job and I’m probably being nice, but both stink! Trickett may be slightly more athletic than Millard but he’s more mistake prone. Also, Millard is slow-footed and his arm is far from strong.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen will probably be forced to alternate signal callers to jump start this suddenly gravely ill program. Rotating QB's usually ends in disaster. Everyone who bets football knows this is an absolute fact.
Offensively, the Mountaineers return few starters. The school's two all-time leading WR's (Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin) are gone. WVU's defense was perhaps the worst of any power conference team last year. Expect more of the same. Teams will run wild all season against the hapless WVU front seven. The unit was ranked last in scoring defense in the Big 12 and 114th nationally, allowing 38.1 points per game.
Another area of great concern is the Mountaineers' special teams play. The starting punter and kicker are gone. Replacements appear to be West Virginia natives. Having attended high school in the northern panhandle of the state (Wheeling, WV), I can attest that West Virginia is not known for cranking out notable place kickers and punters. Since WVU will be forced into three-and-outs on dozens of possessions this season, a poor punting game will give their more offensively gifted Big 12 opponents short fields to work with.
West Virginia has two definite wins on their schedule, William & Mary and Georgia State. These games will be played in the first three weeks and in between these cupcakes is a road trip to Oklahoma, who should crush them.
Week 4 will feature WVU traveling to Baltimore to take on Maryland. I feel that Randy Edsall will outcoach Holgorsen. The line on this game will be close to pick, and it’s possible that West Virginia could be a short favorite (-2).
Game 5 for WVU is a home tilt with Oklahoma State, who was installed as an 11-point road favorite in the “Game of the Year” odds at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. The Cowboys will rack up a huge number and win by daylight.
WVU hosts Baylor in its sixth game and it will most likely be a home underdog again. I expect a talented Bears team to win the game with offense.
The seventh game in the last of three consecutive home games for the Mountaineers and its winnable too, with Texas Tech coming town. The Red Raiders are going through coaching changes and they lack overall talent.
Games eight and nine for WVU are road trips to Kansas State and TCU. I expect the Mountaineers to be double-digit underdogs in both tilts and I believe they will lose both games in coach-firing fashion.
In the second week of November, West Virginia returns home to host Texas, who is going to be better than expected and definitely a Big 12 contender. This will be another loss as home underdogs for the Mountaineers.
The eleventh game of the season looks winnable on paper, a road trip to Kansas. This line will be within three either way. I'll take Charlie Weis over Holgorsen any day of the week and twice on Saturday. Kansas has a lower win total (3) than WVU but the Jayhawks are undervalued and the Mountaineers never play well in cold weather on the road.
Finally, West Virginia closes the season at home against Iowa State. It should be favored in this spot and they may end the season with a win. I, however, do not envision a "Win this one for Coach Holgorsen Day" in early December against the Cyclones. My prediction is a terrible WVU club staggering into senior day in front of a half-empty stadium. Dana Holgorsen will be burned in effigy during the Iowa State game if he hasn't already been fired.
Doing the quick math, West Virginia is locked in for two wins and eight losses in my book with two toss-ups. Regardless of what happens in those games, I still believe WVU finishes well below six victories.