We’ve already identified three potential games that might trip up the Mountaineers if they get caught looking ahead. That isn’t what we’re talking about now. Now we’re talking about man-up, snap those chipstraps, lace up those cleats games. These games are going to be slobberknockers. Knock-down, drag-out fights between two teams.
September 15, 3:30 PM, ESPN Family (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) at N.C. State Wolfpack
It would be a real kick-in-the-balls for the Mountaineers to slip up against the Penguins in Week 2 and then fall again to the Wolfpack in Week 3 but that option is open if the Mountaineers don’t come ready to play.
This week 3 matchup will be between two of the better quarterbacks in the nation: Will Grier and Ryan Finley. While WVU fans are familiar that Grier is being talked about as a potential first round NFL pick, the same can be said about Finley. Some mock drafts have him going towards the end of the first round. Finley has even been named a dark-horse Heisman contender so don’t sleep on the Wolfpack signal caller.
The defense under Dave Doeren has been solid and being at home could give NCSU enough of a boost to hold down Will Grier.
October 13 at Iowa St. Cyclones
Armed with a defense that took down a Baker Mayfield led Oklahoma in Norman and TCU, in Ames in 2017, the Cyclones are definitely going to be a tough test for the Mountaineers. Last years game was a tale of two halves. West Virginia scored 20 points in the first half, all within the first 25 minutes. They didn’t score the rest of the game. Iowa State countered, scoring 13 points in the second half but failed on a 4th and 7 that sealed the game.
The ‘Eers travel to Ames in the middle of October when the weather begins to turn cooler and teams need to rely on running the ball. Iowa State has one of, if not the, best running backs in the Big 12 in David Montgomery. Quarterback Kyle Kempt has experience and understands Matt Campbell’s system.
November 23, 8 PM, ESPN vs. Oklahoma Sooners
In reality, any game in “Deathvember (TM)” could be on this list but the game against the Sooners is going to be the toughest one yet. The Sooners are loaded with talent, even if they are replacing one of the best quarterbacks to ever play at Oklahoma. The good news is that Oklahoma has to come to Morgantown. The bad news, the growing trend in this series.
First off, West Virginia has never beaten the Sooners in Big 12 play. Second, the score differential has been growing year by year. When the ‘Eers had Tavon, they lost by 1 point. When they had Paul Millard, they lost by 9 points. When they had Clint Trickett and Kevin White, they lost by 12 points. Karl Joseph’s last collegiate game, they lost by 20. In the one time they had a chance at a Big 12 title they lost by 28. Last year, with Kennedy McKoy doing his best Wildcat, we stopped the trend and “only” lost by 28.
The other point, not talked about, is what this game could mean. On the one hand, WVU and Oklahoma are two of the programs expected to be in the hunt for the Big 12 title this season. Let’s say both teams go into the game knowing they are going to play in the Big 12 Championship. How do you approach this game if you know you have to play this same opponent the following week?
The bigger picture also includes the playoffs. If you are still in discussion of the playoffs, you have to win this game because you can’t take a week off. Losing in November only to win in December only works in the NFL. With a playoff committee full of humans, you can’t take a chance and lose. Imagine a scenario where WVU is forced to not only play their hardest because they have to keep their playoff hopes alive, but they already know they are going to play Oklahoma next week in the Championship. What do you do?
What game scares you the most in 2018
This poll is closed
Tennessee in Charlotte
NC State in Raleight
Texas Tech in Lubbock
Iowa State in Ames
Texas in Austin
Oklahoma State in Stillwater