West Virginia, A Playoff Contender?

September 26, 2018

West Virginia fans have been waiting for years to get the taste of 2007 out of their mouths. For those that don't know what happened that year. Here's a very short and brief break down. 

 

Nightmare in Morgantown!

West Virginia entered the last game of the 2007 season ranked number 2 in the country. All that stood in their way was a hapless Pittsburgh team that had only managed 4 wins on the season. The 28 point home favorite Mountaineers, led by explosive duo Pat White and Steve Slaton, looked prime to take West Virginia fans somewhere they hadn't been since 1988. Quickly the game turned for the worst when star quarterback White was injured in the first quarter. The West Virginia offense could never really recover after that and the Panthers were able to pull off one of the biggest upsets in football history. This game became the game that must not be spoke of for all WVU fans since.

 

High Flying Offense! Shutdown Defense?

West Virginia entered the 2018 season as a very popular pick to challenge Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma. Some people actually had the Mountaineers as a dark horse playoff contender. West Virginia, led by Heisman Candidate Will Grier and arguably the best-receiving corp in the country. Will and can score points with ease. The biggest question was can that defense stop anyone? Last year the Mountaineers gave up over 30 points per game. Well turns out bringing in grad transfers Kenny Bigelow (USC) and Jabril Robinson (Clemson) along with freshman defensive end Dante Stills was just what the doctor ordered for defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. West Virginia who finished ranked 95 last year in scoring defense, has miraculously turned that into the best scoring defense in college football this year at 12.3 points per game.

 

Special Feeling In Morgantown!

With the explosive offense and suddenly stingy defense the Mountaineers go into Saturday’s game in Lubbock against #25 and suddenly red-hot Texas Tech. Ready to prove that they are indeed a legit contender to make the College Football Playoff for the first time. The Red Raiders though will be the first true test for that revamped and dominating defense up to this point. If and when WVU wins Saturday morning they will be in prime position moving forward. The Mountaineers follow up the game in Lubbock with a fairly soft schedule with Kansas, Baylor, and Iowa State. That would have WVU rolling into November at 7-0 and likely a top 5 ranking. If this is indeed the case you will be able to feel the buzz from Morgantown all the way across the nation.

 

The November 4!

As soft as the first half of the schedule is, the complete opposite can be said of the last 4 games. West Virginia will start off the November slate in Austin against a suddenly "back" Texas Longhorn team. They follow that up by coming back home for TCU, then hit the road again with a trip to Stillwater. Finally they end the regular season with what truly should be for the Big 12 regular season title. Black Friday in Morgantown, against the Oklahoma Sooners. West Virginia has yet to beat the Sooners in Big 12 play since joining the conference. So the Mountaineers are due right? 

 

Can they Actually do it?

If the Mountaineer defense can actually continue being as disruptive and stingy as they have been. Then certainly they become the favorites coming out of the Big 12. With Grier West Virginia has the most experienced and battle tested quarterback in a league that is quarterback driven. West Virginia probably can even afford a loss and still be a playoff contender as long as they win the Big 12 Championship game in December. I would be hard pressed to think the committee would keep the Big 12 champion out this year when the ACC and PAC 12 both have looked extremely weak. Buckle up Morgantown, and get the furniture ready. West Virginia has a very legit shot to deliver what we have all longed for.

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