As we get closer to kicking off the 2019 college football season, teams from around the country, but more specifically in the Big 12, are dreaming as to how they can either meet expectations (Texas, Oklahoma), exceed them (Baylor, Iowa State) or absolutely shock the world (Kansas State, Texas Tech). But July is the time for every program and every fan to dream of hoisting that conference championship on the first Saturday in early December.
So let’s look at the Big 12 conference and expand on how every team can have that magical season. Let’s get to the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Editor’s note: Below are the previous teams we’ve discussed.
How can the West Virginia Mountaineers win the Big 12 in 2019?
Neal Brown enters his first season with the Mountaineers with plenty of holes to fill left by his predecessor Dana Holgorsen. The biggest hole is replacing quarterback Will Grier, which Brown is hoping is filled competently by Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall. Kendall was a four-star prospect who followed Lincoln Riley from the Carolinas to OU, but he had the unfortunate luck of having to sit behind back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners, and once Jalen Hurts transferred in from Alabama, Kendall, understandably, decided he had had enough. But he’s years removed from playing meaningful football, so what is that adjustment like? Brown has to hope it’s a quick one, because the Mountaineers have the toughest schedule in the conference. Of course, there is a QB battle underway with Jack Allison and Trey Lowe, but all things considered, Kendall has to be the front runner and favorite.
The Mountaineers open up against an FCS opponent, but it happens to be James Madison, one of the best programs at the FCS level. Then they have two legitimate Power 5 games against Missouri and N.C. State. For WVU to pull off a Big 12 Conference title, of course the non-conference games don’t matter, but the Mountaineers need to use their difficult schedule as a way to be as prepared as any team in the Big 12 for what’s to come in conference play.
Up front, WVU will need its offensive line to be completely healthy throughout the season. There isn’t much depth behind the first string, which is led by two high-quality players in Colton McKivitz and Josh Sills. For Kendall, or whoever wins the QB battle, it will be imperative to have these guys up front provide the necessary protection for skill players like T.J. Simmons, Tevin Bush, Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway. Defensively, the Mountaineers have a whole new scheme to with a 4-2-5 hybrid defense, moving away from Tony Gibson’s 3-3-5. There are huge question marks up front, with more potential in the back seven, but it’s the side of the ball with more question marks.
For WVU, they get the Jayhawks to kick off Big 12 play, which should give them an easy win and nice confidence boost. Then it’s two weeks off before taking on Texas at home for Homecoming Weekend. If the Mountaineers, behind a raucous crowd, can pull off a win, then WVU is 2-0 and making some noise in the conference. Their next two games? Brutal. They’re home to Iowa State and on the road at Oklahoma. Split these two and they are in good shape.
A Thursday night Halloween match up against Baylor in Waco needs to be won and then a 3-1 November against Texas Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU. That would make the Mountaineers 7-2 and hope they have a tiebreaker to get into the Big 12 Title Game. In what should be a topsy-turvy Big 12 season, that might just do the trick and get them to Arlington in early December.
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