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What I Think About West Virginia, Florence and This Season

The lack of a game didn’t ruin my confidence in this team

NCAA Football: Youngstown State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Hurricane Florence

I hope that everyone who was in the path of Florence was able to to avoid serious damage and destruction. The storm has dumped an incredible amount of rain on an area that is already soaked from rains. Drivers are getting stranded and people are being forced to evacuate their homes from rising flood waters. I pray for the safety of everyone and hope the damage is limited to structures and not life.

NC State

Like everyone, I was looking forward to the game between the Mountaineers and the N.C. State Wolfpack, and I was disappointed when the game was announced that it was canceled. I read online from many fans who wanted to know why the game wasn't likely to be rescheduled. It is extremely valid to be disappointed in the loss of a football game. That said, not understanding the devastation unleashed by Hurricane Florence is extremely naive. I saw many fans wondering why the game wasn’t moved up or why it wasn’t rescheduled.

The game wasn’t moved up because a hurricane was bearing down on the state of North Carolina. Weather is unpredictable and just because no rain may have been falling on NCSU at 3:30 PM does not mean that by 7 PM the rain wasn’t there. It requires time for people to drive to and from games and putting both fans and emergency responders at risk just to play a football game is idiotic.

Carolinas’ Coast Line Recovers From Hurricane Florence, As Storm Continues To Pour Heavy Rain On The States Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With regards to rescheduling the game, unfortunately the two teams do not share a bye week. There was a rumor circulating that WVU could push its game with Iowa State from October 13th to October 20th and play the Wolfpack on the 13th. The major logistical hurdle from that standpoint is WVU has an open date on the 20th because it plays the Baylor Bears on October 25th (Thursday). Asking a college team to play three games in the span of 12 days at the middle of a season is how you lose a game you shouldn’t and derail a season. I saw fans saying we shouldn’t “duck” any opponent. The school isn’t “ducking” anyone. They made a decision that was about the safety and concern of their players.

The Playoffs and The Heisman

Many people worry that the lack of a twelfth game will negatively impact the Mountaineers. I can’t say for certain, because the playoff committee and the Heisman voting committee is full of human beings who possess bias and error, but I don’t think it will. If West Virginia absolutely needed a road game against a non-ranked non-conference opponent to make the playoffs, then it likely wasn’t going to make the playoffs at all. WVU already has a “signature” out-of-conference win against the Tennessee Volunteers. That win is as good as Alabama or Georgia’s non-conference. I think Tennessee will be better than UCLA so you can argue that win is better than Oklahoma’s non-conference win and because of the Big 12 scheduling, playing Tennessee means that WVU will have played 10 games against Power 5 opponents out of now 11 total games (90%). If WVU makes the Big 12 Conference Championship Game, that will be 11 of 12 opponents (91.6%). When you play 91% of your games against Power 5 teams, having one game canceled due to Mother Nature shouldn’t affect you.

For the Heisman, I again don’t think the loss of the game will hurt Will. Missing the game did at prevent Will from possibly putting some separation between him and the other players but it doesn’t appear to have hurt him overall. Will’s Heisman campaign is going to come down to the final three (or four) games of the season: vs TCU Horned Frogs, @ Oklahoma State Cowboys, vs Oklahoma Sooners and possibly the Big 12 Championship Game. If Will performs well in those games and puts up the numbers he is capable of, he will find himself in New York hoisting the trophy.

As for the other Heisman contenders, you are going to hear a lot of people talking about the Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He is very, very good but he could be a victim of his team’s success. Even in a win against the Ole Miss Rebels, Tua was dominant when you watched the game but his stats do not jump off the page. Right now he is on pace for 2800 yards and 34 touchdowns assuming ‘Bama makes the SEC Championship Game. Those are very good numbers but they aren’t “Heisman-worthy” numbers.

Who you need to worry about is Kyler Murray. Murray is on pace for almost 3800 yards and 34 touchdowns but the Oklahoma defense isn’t great so it is possible Murray will be asked to throw more as the season progresses. Those numbers could trend up. Add in Murray’s rushing ability and you have a guy capable of putting up 4500+ offensive yards and 40+ touchdowns. And his team is likely to be 11 or 12 wins.