After having the winter and spring sports seasons end abruptly in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, college sports are finally back! Four Mountaineer teams are back in action this month, including the West Virginia women’s soccer team, volleyball team, golf team, and football team. Let’s take a look at the top five games for Mountaineer athletics this month!
5. Women’s Soccer at Iowa State (September 11)
Starting off our list is the first game for any West Virginia team this season. The WVU women’s soccer team is back on the pitch after reaching the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season. WVU finished the year with a 12-8-2 record. The Big 12 Conference decided that its ten member teams, including WVU, will only play nine nonconference games this season. The teams are not allowed to schedule non-conference matches. The Mountaineers’ season opener will be against Iowa State. The Cyclones finished last season with a 10-game losing streak and a 3-15 record. In last year’s match between WVU and ISU, the Mountaineers came out on top with a 2-0 win. Hopefully, this game will get the Mountaineer women’s soccer team and WVU athletics off to a good start this fall.
4. Volleyball at Texas Tech (September 24-25)
Next up is the season opener for the West Virginia volleyball team. Similarly to the plan for women’s soccer, the Big 12 has decided that its volleyball teams will only play conference matches this season. The conference also decided to schedule doubleheaders for each matchup, so WVU will start the season with back-to-back matches at Texas Tech. The Mountaineers struggled last season with a 12-17 record, winning only three conference matches, but WVU is returning five starters from last year. Texas Tech defeated the Mountaineers in both of their matches last season and finished with a 17-13 record. WVU showed improvement last year, despite having a losing record. Head coach Reed Sunahara will look to keep improving in his sixth year with the Mountaineers.
3. Women’s Soccer at Oklahoma State (September 25)
The 2020 Big 12 Soccer Preseason Poll had West Virginia at fourth in the rankings. Head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown is trying to have her Mountaineers exceed those expectations in her 25th season at WVU. Izzo-Brown has a relatively young team this year, with midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel being the only senior on the roster. Junior defender Jordan Brewster will also provide some leadership this season. Brewster started all 22 games for WVU last year, and she was named to the 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Second Team. This matchup with Oklahoma State will be a tough one. The Cowgirls made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, and they defeated the Mountaineers, 2-1, in their one match. OK State is projected to finish second in the conference this year, so the outcome of this game will provide Izzo-Brown and WVU with a good idea of where they stand in the Big 12.
2. Football vs Eastern Kentucky (September 12)
After months of wondering if there would be college football this fall, the Big 12, ACC, and SEC decided to lead the way and go forward with their fall seasons. These three power five conferences are joined by the AAC, Conference USA, and Sun Belt. The three of the power five conferences that are playing this fall also made adjustments to their schedules. For the Big 12 that meant rescheduling conference games and deciding to play only one non-conference game. For West Virginia, that one non-conference game will be against FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky in the season opener. The Colonels went 7-5 last season, while WVU finished the year with a losing record at 5-7. Although this game will be the home opener, the University is not allowing any fans to attend the game due to COVID-19 precautions. But thankfully for WVU fans, the game will be nationally televised on FS1. The Mountaineers are hoping to show improvement in Neal Brown’s second season as the head coach. A convincing win in this game will get the season off on the right foot.
1. Football at #15 Oklahoma State (September 26)
Coming in at #1 on our list is the West Virginia football team’s conference opener at #15 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are returning at least 19 starters from last season, which has them projected to finish second in the Big 12. They also have the Big 12 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, junior running back Chuba Hubbard. The Mountaineers will also have star power to counter Hubbard, with senior defensive lineman and Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Darius Stills. Both players were also named to the 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Football Team. This matchup between two of the biggest names in the conference could have football fans all across the country tuning in for this game. WVU was competitive in last season’s game against OK State, as the Cowboys came out on top with a 20-13 win. Considering it will be the first conference game for both teams, this game could be competitive again this year. The kickoff time and televisions status of this game have not been announced yet, but it is very possible that this game could be nationally televised.
This summer may have been the longest offseason for Mountaineer fans in many years. After having the men’s basketball season cut short in March and going through a global pandemic, the WVU faithful and college football fans all across the country are ready to see their teams take the field again!