It’s that time folks. When predictions and rankings start coming out of the woodworks. We’ve already seen the first Amway Coaches Poll come out and put the West Virginia Mountaineers at number 20 to start the season. Now Sports Illustrated has released their Top 25. Granted the SI25 doesn’t hold weight in terms of playoffs or anything of that nature but it does show what the national collective thought of the Mountaineers is.
Here is what SI says about their top 25. SI’s preseason Top 25 is designed to set the expectation for the title chase ahead....this is good news for the Mountaineers. Being in the top ten means that the expectation of a Big 12 Championship and possibly more isn’t just fan fervor.
SI has the Mountaineers at number 10.
Last year: 7–6 (5–4 Big 12); Lost to Utah in Heart of Dallas Bowl
SI Top 100 players: Three: QB Will Grier (No. 22), LB David Long (No. 24), WR David Sills V (No. 38)
X-Factor: In any conference, defenses that can’t hold the line of scrimmage get gashed by the run. In the Big 12 especially, ones that can’t pressure get torched by air. Combine both shortcomings and you have the 2017 West Virginia defense, which allowed 6.1 yards a play (98th in the nation). WVU must be better up front—and they will be. After transferring from East Mississippi Community College, end Ezekiel Rose led the team in sacks, though it took him most of the season to break through. In May, Jabril Robinson came to Morgantown because of a logjam at Clemson, and five-star recruit Kenny Bigelow Jr. arrived from USC. The Mountaineers’ D could surprise. — Andy Staples