There is much excitement building for the 2018 West Virginia football season. National attention, three players who could be the best at their positions in the conference, and some enticing non-conference matchups face the Mountaineers this year.
As we know, each game brings a different level of excitement, and the Smoking Musket staff ranked the games that, right now, offer the most excited.
1. Oklahoma, Friday, Nov. 23, Morgantown
The one team we can’t beat—and really haven’t looked close to doing so—comes to Milan Puskar Stadium on Thanksgiving Friday for the season finale. Both WVU and Oklahoma will want this to be a game that decides a spot in the Big 12 title game, but it’s likely WVU will need a win at home against the perennial bugbear. Right now, no game has more hype for it.
2. Tennessee, Saturday, Sept. 1, Charlotte, N.C.
The season opener always brings a lot of excitement, but a chance to beat an SEC team doesn’t come often. WVU has so much hype coming into this season, that beating the Tennessee Volunteers is a must for many reasons. Even being at a neutral site game makes it seem more special. I guarantee that the SEC broadcast for CBS will be surprised how many WVU fans attend the game in Charlotte. And I hope I, my family and my friends (51 in total) are treated to a great display by our team.
3. TCU, Saturday, Nov. 10, Morgantown
This is probably the most legitimate rivalry WVU has in the Big 12. TCU may be down(ish) this year, but both teams should be battling for a spot in the title game when they meet on the second Saturday in November. This game has the potential to see two top-25 teams, a QB seeking Heisman fame and two stables of running backs looking to break loose. Being in Morgantown adds to an already circled game on the calendar.
4. NC State, Saturday, Sept. 15, Raleigh, N.C.
I am personally very excited about this NC State game because I will be attending. Outside of my own excitement, this is another chance for WVU to grab a defining early-season victory outside of the conference. If WVU can win its first three games, watch that hype meter rise to levels we haven’t seen since 2012.
5. OK State, Saturday, Nov. 17, Stillwater, Okla.
I think the staff agrees this is a game we must win. Oklahoma State is down—comparatively—this year. Though the numbers don’t look good for WVU (spoiler: they never do), this game feels like one the Mountaineers can, and should, win on the road. It’s also part of that brutal November for WVU.
6. Texas, Saturday, Nov. 3, Austin, Texas
Mess with Texas and have a legitimate shot at spot in the Big 12 Football Championship game. This should also be a revenge game for the Mountaineers, who should feel robbed of a win, a decent season and a better bowl game when Grier broke his finger against the Longhorns in Morgantown last season.
7. Kansas State, Saturday, Sept. 22, Morgantown
Being the conference opener, this is a hugely important game. It’s also a game WVU should win, being at home and seeing a surprisingly weak Kansas State team. However, if K-State beats Miss State two weeks before, this game could be a clash between two ranked teams with good wins under their belts.
8. Iowa State, Saturday, Oct. 13, Ames, Iowa
Is Iowa State for real? We will find out when the Mountaineers travel to Ames. Firstly, it’s important to this site that the team gets on board with #defendthecan. Secondly, WVU needs to take care of its opportunities to eliminate teams from Big 12 title contention when it can.
9. Baylor, Thursday, Oct. 25, Morgantown
It’s Mountaineer Week and a Thursday night game, which should mean a more energized crowd in Morgantown when an improved Baylor team comes calling. I think this game would be more exciting if Baylor were better, but I don’t think anyone takes likely the chance to beat up on that school.
10. Youngstown State, Saturday, Sept. 8, Morgantown
Yes, this game is more exciting than two conference games. It’s the home opener, it’s at night (OK, 6 p.m.) and it features a team with a coach who will most likely still be coaching at that school after this season. Youngstown may be an FCS team, but they should be a good test for a defense that needs to grow. But mostly, this game is about the Mountaineers showing out at home, for which we are all excited.
11. Texas Tech, Saturday, Sept. 29, Lubbock, Texas
Kliff Kingsbury is coaching for his job this season. The Red Raiders defense should be better, but WVU should be the better team and needs to prove it to Texas Tech, the conference and itself in the first road game of the conference season. Games between these two teams are usually exciting because both offenses love to score, and that should be the same script this season.
12. Kansas, Saturday, Oct. 6, Morgantown
Hey, it’s Homecoming, so that’s exciting. David Beatty is also coaching for his job, so we may see Kansas take some risks, which could lead to excitement. KU did run all over us last year, which could be
exciting anxiety-inducing. Really, the Mountaineers just need to win.
Which games are you most excited about? The non-conference matchups? A conference road trip? Or a clash of titans on Mountaineer Field? Let us know in the comments.