Game-By-Game Predictions for West Virginia's 2014 Season
This is a team that started the 2012 season 5-0, only to lost its next five in a row. This is a team that last season knocked off No. 11 Oklahoma State, then handed bumbling Kansas its first Big 12 win since 2010. This is team coached by Dana Holgorson, who'd had a top-13 offense for five consecutive years then saw his Mountaineers drop to 79th nationally last season.
Can this season's Mountaineers hide their Mr. Hyde side? Are the Big 12 growing pains finally gone? WVU returns a solid 18 starters in 2014, and four of their top five receivers. But quarterback Clint Trickett has lingering shoulder issues, and was far from outstanding even when healthy.
Let's look the West Virginia 2014 football season game by game to see if this team can hope to return to bowl status this year.
Aug. 30, at Alabama - In a "neutral site" game at the Georgia Dome, the the WVU athletic department has offered up the team as an opening week sacrificial lamb for Nick Saban and Alabama. Your grandma has a better chance of beating LeBron James at a game of "H-O-R-S-E" than West Virginia has of beating Alabama. (Prediction: Loss)
Sept. 6, vs Towson - Towson is no FCS team to look past. It defeated UConn last season, and went on to the FCS National Championship Game. I'm going to give WVU the benefit of the doubt with all of its offensive skill players, but if any Colonial Athletic team should worry a major FBS program, it's Towson. (Prediction: Win)
Sept. 13, at Maryland - The Mountaineers no longer dominate this rivalry, as evidenced by last year's 37-0 beatdown loss. WVU is improved this season, but not by 37 points against the Terrapins. (Prediction: Loss)
Sept. 20, vs. Oklahoma - Things don't get any easier against the Big 12's best team. Quarterback Trevor Knight has demolished lesser defenses than the Mountaineers, and the Sooners' defensive line is a buzzsaw. (Prediction: Loss)
Oct. 4, vs Kansas - West Virginia won't have trouble getting their adrenaline up for the Jayhawks, to whom they allowed last year's most embarrassing upset. Dreamius Smith should have a fantastic day running on Kansas' poor defense. (Prediction: Win)
Oct. 11, at Texas Tech - Take the over in this shooutout. Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury loves to throw, and quarterback Davis Webb is happy to oblige in ways the Mountaineers can't defend for four quarters. (Prediction: Loss)
Oct. 18, vs Baylor - Remember those amazing golden chrome mirror helmets Baylor wore against WVU last season? I'm afraid we may also see a mirror image of last year's Baylor game, wherein the Mountaineers gave up 73 points. (Prediction: Loss)
Oct. 25, at Oklahoma State - The Oklahoma State upset was the high point of last season for WVU. It won't be an upset when the Mountaineers win this year, as the Cowboys' program is on a fast decline. (Prediction: Win)
Nov. 1, vs TCU - It took overtime to beat the Horned Frogs last season, but this game won't be as close. TCU's quarterback Trevone Boykin remains suspect, and WVU can score points on this team. (Prediction: Win)
Nov. 8, at Texas - Charlie Strong might have these Longhorns back in the Top 20 by season's end, and this game will be part of his late-season push. (Prediction: Loss)
Nov. 20, vs. Kansas State - Here's your Thursday night game, Mountaineer Nation! And WVU has 12 days to prepare. But the best player on the field in this game, Wildcats receiver Tyler Lockett, will steal the show in Mo-town. (Prediction: Loss)
Nov. 29 vs. Iowa State - Another week-plus break to prepare for the final game of the regular season, which tells you how much the schedule-makers expect to see the Mountaineers in postseason play. But schedule makers and oddsmakers think even less of the Iowa State Cyclones. (Prediction: Win)
These predictions leave West Virginia with a 5-7 record, which is not bowl game material. For Dana Holgorson, it might not even be keep-your-job material.
2014 West Virginia Projected Record: 5-7 (4-5)
Joe Kukura is a Pac-12 contributor for FanIQ. Follow him on Twitter: @ExercisingDrunk