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Three Game Stretch Could Define Season For The West Virginia Mountaineers

Another October stretch of games could determine whether or not the Mountaineers are Big 12 contenders or pretenders.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Last season the Mountaineers were faced with one of, if not the most challenging 4-game stretch of games every in their history. Four teams, all ranked, with three of them on the road. The Mountaineers faced the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Morgantown, the Baylor Bears in Waco and the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth. The latter two opponents were top 5 opponents. All were undefeated at the time the Mountaineers played them. It may be a stretch of games the Mountaineers never face again.

In 2016, the Mountaineers look to have a reprieve from the scheduling gods and get the Big 12 contenders over their entire schedule instead of one big block. However, the Mountaineers still face a set of games in October that could define their season.

I think the stretch that will tell us a lot about West Virginia comes early: on the road at Texas Tech, home vs. TCU and back on the road at Oklahoma State to finish out October. The Mountaineers get a bye right before that run, so that helps a little, but I think that will be a brutally tough run of games. I'm guessing all three foes will be ranked at that point, and Tech could definitely be 5-0. It's a sink-or-swim kind of challenge for Dana Holgorsen's squad early on in an important season. -

Max Olson (ESPN Big 12 Blog)

That is certainly not the Murder's Row that the Mountaineers faced last year but it is likely the toughest stretch of games WVU will face.

West Virginia will start the year with former Big 12 member Missouri who will be breaking in a new coach. That game will be followed by FCS opponent, Youngstown State. A neutral-site clash with BYU then awaits the boys in Old Gold and Blue after a bye week.

Dana Holgorsen and his staff will then get their fifth try to beat the Bill Snyder led Wildcats before another off week. Finally, we get to this three game stretch.

The Mountaineers had a very similar stretch in 2014 when WVU traveled to Texas Tech before hosting the undefeated Baylor Bears in Morgantown. After Baylor, the Mountaineers traveled to Oklahoma State.

In 2014, West Virginia won all three games. They squeaked by Texas Tech on a Josh Lambert game-winning field goal. Tony Gibson and his staff challenged Baylor to figure out how to beat man-press while Kevin White drew pass interference call after pass interference call. The Mountaineers then went into Boone Pickens Stadium and man-handled the Cowboys.

If Dana Holgorsen wants to bring a Big 12 Championship to West Virginia, this early season stretch will give fans an idea if the team is a pretender or contender.