In 2015, the West Virginia Mountaineers started out 3-0 before they entered what became known as "Deathtober", a stretch of four games in October against the 4 beat teams in the Big 12. The team fought valiantly against the Oklahoma Sooners (44-24) and lost in overtime to the Pokes before succombing to #2 Baylor (62-38) and dying against TCU and Treyvon Boykin (40-10).
This year featured Deathtober 2.0, a stretch of four games against the preseason top four teams in October back-to-back-to-back-to-back. West Virginia just finished that stretch 0-4, even though they had chances against Texas, Iowa State and Baylor.
Now the perceived "catch your breath" stretch looms but its not as easy as it may have appeared in August.
Much of the 2019 Red Raiders looks a lot like the 2018, ‘17 and ‘16 variety. The defense is still near the bottom of the nation in almost all category, but instead of daring opponents to match them score for score, they are 54th in scoring. Still, new head coach (I’m sensing a theme) Matt Wells has his quarterback Jett Duffey playing better. Duffey, who nearly engineered an upset against the Mountaineers last season, came on in relief of injured QB Alan Bowman and has thrown only two interceptions compared to 9 touchdowns in his last four games. Duffey had the Red Raiders in position to beat the Baylor Bears and possibly the Kansas Jayhawks. With West Virginia’s offensive struggles, even if the Red Raiders only score 28 points, can the Mountaineers keep up, especially against cornerback Douglas Coleman III and his nation-leading 7 interceptions?
ESPN gives the Mountaineers only a 45% chance to win the game
The Wildcats are in their own rebuild after longtime architect Bill Snyder decided to retire for a second time. New head coach Chris Klieman came from Division FCS and has brought his winning ways from North Dakota. Klieman has taken a roster that went 5-7 last year and has them 6-2 and in contention for the Big 12 Championship Game. The Wildcats next four games are against: Texas Longhorns, WVU, Texas Tech, and Iowa State. If the Wildcats run the table and Oklahoma loses to Baylor, guess who owns a tiebreaker with Oklahoma? The Wildcats thanks to their 48-41 win over the Sooners.
The Wildcats aren’t just an upstart team, they are winning games the way Bill Snyder liked to win games: tough defense and running the football. The Wildcats boast a scoring defense that is almost top 25 (!), ranking 26th at 20.4 points per game and the 18th best pass defense. On top of that, they are almost a top 40 offense (41st) at 33 points per game.
ESPN gives WVU only a 14% chance to win the game
If I told you the Big 12 boasted a player leading the nation in yardage, you may not be surprised. You’d probably think one of the QBs lead the nation in passing or one of the receivers was blowing everyone out the water. While Brock Purdy, the Iowa St QB is 8th in the nation in passing yards and Tylan Wallace is 5th in receiving yards, its the Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, who leads the nation in rushing yardage. In fact, Chuba is so dominate right now, that despite having only 4 more carries than AJ Dillon, the Boston College running back, Hubbard has over 300 more yards and 5 more touchdowns. Hubbard ran over and around TCU this weekend, for his fourth 200 yard game this season.
Because of Hubbard, the Cowboys are a top 20 scoring offense. They are a typical Big 12 team, all offense and little defense. The Cowboys struggle on defense, giving up 29 points a game.
ESPN gives WVU only a 26% chance to win the game
The Horned Frogs loss to Oklahoma State this weekend dropped them to 4-4 overall and puts some doubt into whether Gary Patterson can get his team to bowl eligibility after he struggled to get them to 6-6 last season. The Horned Frogs come in with their typical Patterson-esque defense, 58th in scoring defense, but 33rd in passing. The Horned Frogs have a tough slate ahead of them, they take on rival Baylor this weekend. If they lose, the Frogs will need to find two wins in their final three games to get back to a bowl. They have Texas Tech after Baylor, but then have to play Oklahoma. Assuming they split those two games, the Frogs would enter the season finale at 5-6, needing to beat the Mountaineers in order to become bowl eligible. The most dangerous team in the world is a team facing bowl elimination and you can bet that Patterson will throw the kitchen sink at the Mountaineers in order to gain that 6th win.
ESPN gives WVU only a 15% chance to win the game
Will WVU be bowl-eligible in 2019?
This poll is closed