More than seasons of late, this fall’s WVU football campaign seems to have taken forever to get here. It feels as if it has been much longer than eight months since the Clemson Massacre. On the one hand, the build up to this first game against Marshall is exciting and the respect that our program is getting on the national level is unprecedented (now that the "BIG LEAST" is in our rearview mirror). On the other hand, when Kirk Herbstreit says WVU could be a sleeper for the National Championship, I get nervous.
As Mountaineer fans know from experience, we always play better as the much maligned underdog. Coach Holgorsen has stated that he loves and wants high expectations, and it certainly helps recruiting. Here’s hoping Holgy & Co. can manage success. It was former Washington Redskins, Hall of Fame Coach, Joe Gibbs who stated that coaching a team after winning the Super Bowl was much more difficult than coaching a team before reaching championship heights.
So we begin with Marshall. We’re expected to rout them - WVU has won 11 straight against the Thundering Herd. With a win in what many believe will be the final time the two will ever play football again, WVU could make it an even dozen wins. It is only because of the pre-season hype that I would ever be concerned about an opponent like Marshall. Doc Holliday is 12-13 as Marshall’s head man. He’s under pressure to win. Now. An upset would cool off Holliday’s increasingly hot seat.
The Herd’s best returning offensive players include WR Aaron Dobson, QB Rakeem Cato, WR Antavious Wilson, RB Tron Martinez, and RB Travon Van. Defensive returners? LB Devin Arrington. It’s a short list. They only have five returning starters from last year’s team and they lost their best defensive player, Vinny Curry. Their defense is young and porous. For Marshall to have any chance to win they must run the ball and control the clock. Keeping WVU's offense off the field as much as possible is the only way they can avoid getting so far behind that they can’t continue running the ball.
For WVU to win, all they have to do is play with intensity. Talent-wise there is no comparison. Experience at every position on the field favors the Mountaineers. And the first game of our first season in the Big 12 (with our fancy new stadium signage upgrades) will more than likely produce a crowd enthusiasm that will make this game impossible for Marshall to win.
PREDICTION: WVU wins 42-13. And no thunderstorms in the Thundering Herd game this year.
What is your game score prediction?