The 2016 football season is almost upon us. And it is about time. I’m ready for some “Let’s Go Mountaineers”, “Country Roads” and Tony Caridi. That got me thinking, this season’s schedule sets up so much better than last year’s death march in October.
For the first month of the season, the Mountaineers do not leave the area except for a “neutral site” game at FedEx Field against the BYU Cougars. If that game isn’t 75% Mountaineer fans, I’ll be disappointed.
The ‘Eers even get a bye week before traveling to Lubbock, Texas against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. They alternate home and away games throughout the season and end the season against the Baylor Bears.
There are still some things that could be better, so let’s take a look at how we could set the schedule up in the most ideal way possible. This exercise ignores the other teams schedule in terms of bye weeks, opponent and the like because trying to rearrange 12 different teams and their respective opponents is an exercise in futility. So here is my take on a revised schedule.
Week One - Missouri Tigers
I like the idea of starting the year off against Missouri. Its a good test for the Mountaineers. Missouri is breaking in a new coach and their offense is still a big question mark.
Week Two - Youngstown State Penguins
FCS games are still a reality of the schedule and so let us get this one out of the way early.
Week Three - BYU Cougars
Here is where I change the schedule. Instead of a bye week two weeks into the schedule, I want to immediately play the Cougars following Youngstown State. I don’t like having a bye week two weeks into the season. We just started playing football, let’s keep playing football!
Week Four - Kansas State Wildcats
Entering the fifth year of Big 12 play, the Mountaineers have always played the Wildcats later in the season. That hasn’t worked out so well so I like the idea of playing them early. The Wildcats are likely to start Jesse Ertz who got hurt on the first play of the game last year. He’s never faced the aggressive 3-3-5 so that should be an advantage to the Mountaineers.
Week Five - Bye
After four straight weeks of football, the players will need a break. Their bodies will be nicked and dinged up and a week off will give everyone a chance to heal. Plus next week is a long travel week, so it will give everyone time to adjust.
Week Six - at Texas Longhorns
I always hate playing Texas late in the year. They are a team that seems to lose their identity in the beginning of the year and then toward the end of the year realize just what kind of team they should be. The Longhorns most likely will also have a new signal caller and if you notice, I want to play those guys early. This could be the first conference home game for a freshman, who will likely have some nerves. So again, let’s play this guy early.
Week Seven - TCU Horned Frogs
After an away game with Texas, its back home against the Horned Frogs. The Horned Frogs also will be breaking in a new quarterback. TCU has been a thorn in the Mountaineers side, especially in Morgantown. This game, dependent on how good both teams are, could be a Gameday possibility in Week Seven. There is Ohio Sate vs Wisconsin, Ole Miss vs Arkansas, Bama vs Tennessee and not many other marquee games on the schedule.
Week Eight - at Iowa St. Cyclones
I know the Big 12 has “decided” that Iowa State is WVU’s “rival”. I’m glad they gave us someone but I fully disagree that it is ISU. Outside of one game where we simply stopped playing, ISU has not been competitive on the field with the Mountaineers. Maybe that will change with new head coach Matt Campbell, but I seriously doubt it. Having an easier game in the middle of the schedule will be nice.
Week Nine - Oklahoma Sooners
Here we go. I dislike playing Texas late in the year and I dislike playing Oklahoma early in the year. So I’m playing Oklahoma in Week Nine. This is the weekend before Halloween in Morgantown. It will be cold, it will be rowdy and if the Mountaineers play well up to this point, it could be a night game.
Week Ten - Bye
Again, after four weeks of football bodies are nicked and banged up so a week off will be good for everybody. Plus, the following week the Mountaineers are traveling.
Week Eleven - at Texas Tech Red Raiders
Lubbock is a weird, weird place. Its windy and colder than expected. The Mountaineers will have to face one of the nation’s top offenses. Having an extra week to prepare for Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid attack and the dual-threat nature of Patrick Mahomes, will be helpful for everyone.
Week Twelve - Kansas Jayhawks
Much like Iowa State, outside of a fluke 2013 game, Kansas hasn’t been competitive against the Mountaineers. Having an easier game near the end of the year will be helpful for getting younger players experience.
Week Thirteen (Rivalry Week) - at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State is my pick for a rival in the Big 12, and I do use that term semi-loosely. The two teams have had some memorable games, from the upset in 2013 to the heartbreaker last year. Both teams are typically well matched and have playmakers on both sides of the field. I know Oklahoma State has the Sooners, who they play at the end of the season and Texas Tech but I think this could be a solid rivalry given time. The programs are more similar than you think.
Week Fourteen - Baylor Bears
This year, I fully expect Baylor to be a tirefire at the end of the year. With the departure of Art Briles and loss of different players, I think Baylor is going to be struggling to field a competitive team at the end of the year. But even if they are, the Bears have not beaten the Mountaineers in Morgantown and December in Morgantown is cold. I like the chances for the Mountaineers in December.