With the news that the 2022 football schedule has been released for the West Virginia Mountaineers, we can now take a firm look and see what exactly our expectations will be going into a make-or-break season for fourth year head coach Neal Brown. The Mountaineers have seen small steady growth to this point but steady growth has also been undermined by costly mistakes, miscues, penalties and the smallest margin of error for the team. Each game is played as if a wrong step will send the team hurdling down into the abyss never to be seen again and ultimately, those mistakes are made and then haunt the team. The team could be as good as 9-3 if bounces against Maryland, Oklahoma and Texas Tech had gone their way but conversely they could be as bad as 3-9 if bounces against Virginia Tech, Iowa State and Texas had gone differently as well.
The Mountaineers are not going to win more than 7 games this season so next season needs to see a jump in growth for the club. Would 8 wins but being out of the Big 12 Championship in early October be sufficient or does the team need to be closer to 10 wins? Can they get there?
Saturday, September 3, AT Pittsburgh
First game of the year and we open with the Backyard Brawl. The Panthers are headed to the ACC Championship game against Wake Forest and are led by senior quarterback Kenny Pickett. Pickett has exhausted his eligibility and the Panthers will need to break in a new quarterback. Without an experienced quarterback, we should expect the Panthers offense to take a step back. The question remains how well will the Mountaineers offense fare? First game of the year in a non-hostile road environment is not the worst place to open up. West Virginia wins a close game here.
WVU 24 - Pitt 20
Saturday, September 10, vs. KANSAS
We open the home slate with a kickoff against Kansas and while the Jayhawks have seen exponential growth this past season and look like they’ve found their quarterback, we have seen the Jayhawks looks like a thorn in the sides of teams a few times over the years only to fall right back into their ways. I don’t think that will happen this time since Lance Leipold is the real deal in my eyes. He won at Wisconsin-Whitewater and he won at Buffalo. Once he starts winning at Kansas, the next big job on the market will be his. West Virginia is still more talented and will be playing at home. This is a win, though it may not be the blowout we’re used to.
WVU 35 - KU 24
Saturday, September 17, vs. TOWSON
I’m not going to spend a whole lot of words on this game because this is the game where West Virginia pays someone to get beat, parents get to see their freshman and sophomore sons play football and everyone has a relaxing day. This is a win. It better be a win. I won’t say anything else.
WVU 55 - Towson 7
Saturday, September 24, at Virginia Tech
Here is the real kicker. I ran a poll on Twitter and over 85% of voters said they would prefer to beat Pitt than VT. I am firmly in the other camp, willing to lose to Pitt than lose this game. My hatred of Pitt pales in comparison for my hatred of Virginia Tech. It just does. Virginia Tech nearly beat the Mountaineers this year and while the Hokies will be breaking in a new coach, this will be game four for the Hokies and the Mountaineers so there won’t be any excuses about not being ready. Virginia Tech held the Black Diamond Trophy for over 6,000 days before the Mountaineers returned it to Morgantown. I want to keep it in Morgantown. I’m not sure that happens though.
Virginia Tech 27 - WVU 17
Saturday, October 1, at Texas
Steve Sarkisian is founding out quickly why the Texas job may be the hardest in all sports. Unreal expectations coupled with boosters who all think they know how to do your job all while having to bear the knockout punch of every team in the league. Its a hard gig and not everyone is good at it. West Virginia handled the Longhorns this year while both teams struggled with injuries. Texas should be stronger and will have their sensational running back Bijan Robinson. I think Texas eeks out a victory here.
Texas 30 - West Virginia 24
Thursday, October 15, vs Baylor
Neal Brown gets to experience his first true night game in Morgantown as the Baylor Bears travel to West Virginia. Baylor ambushed the Mountaineers this year catching them as they struggled to a 2-4 start. The Mountaineers did not want to play that day but should be ready for a big night game that almost no one on the roster will have experienced. In 2013, the Bears walloped the Mountaineers, scoring 73 points on them. The next year in Morgantown, the ‘Eers righted the ship 41-24. In 2015, the Bears again ambushed West Virginia with 62 points. West Virginia won 24-21 in 2016. West Virginia has never lost to Baylor at home. They won’t lose at night at home.
West Virginia 41 - Baylor 24
Saturday, October 22, at Texas Tech
West Virginia’s house of horrors is in West Texas where the Mountaineers have seen good seasons derailed by the West Texas winds and the weird place that is Lubbock Texas. Neal Brown is 0-3 against TTU and now the Red Raiders will have a new head coach, despite the fact that they made a bowl this year. Hard to predict without a head coach in place and knowing what he will do but I will lean on history and say until Neal Brown beats Texas Tech, I don’t expect him to beat Texas Tech.
TTU 34 - WVU 24
Saturday, October 29, vs TCU
Gary Patterson is now gone from TCU and the Horned Frogs have fallen from a team that once was on the cusp of being the next Big Thing in the Big 12. They had their chance at Oklahoma, could not sustain it and have been mediocre for a while now. Another new head coach, this time in Morgantown and I like to think that the Mountaineers should be better. Give the home team the edge for now.
WVU 21 - TCU 10
Saturday, November 5, at Iowa State
No Brock Purdy. Let me remind you, no Brock Purdy. That gives me hope the Mountaineers can compete and now that Matt Campbell’s scheme isn’t new, teams are beginning to figure out how to fight it and combat it. The Mountaineers showed a good strategy this year but I also wonder how much of that was the Iowa State game was the game circled on the calendar all year and the one where everyone bought in. That doesn’t seem like the case this year, (that likely belongs to Baylor this time). Iowa State wins at home.
ISU 36 - WVU 27
Saturday November 12 vs Oklahoma
The Sooners will be without Lincoln Riley. They are seeing a lot of exodus in transfers and de commits, but they are still Oklahoma and like I said against Texas Tech, until we beat Oklahoma, I’m not going into any game predicting us to beat Oklahoma. Sooners win. I hope its close again.
Oklahoma 44 - WVU 21
Saturday November 19, vs Kansas State
As I lay out this schedule and my initial predictions, I realize this now becomes a pivotal game. It is Senior Night and if I’m right, the Mountaineers are 5-5 at this point. They need one more win to get bowl eligible. As much as Texas Tech has been a thorn in the side of the Mountaineers, West Virginia has been a thorn in the side of Kansas State. Being at home should give West Virginia a reason to get hyped and they’ve done well in being prepared for these types of games. Look to see the seniors go out on a high note at home.
West Virginia 27 - Kansas State 20
Saturday November 26, at Oklahoma State
Here is where we have some discussions, if the Mountaineers are 6-5 at this point can Neal Brown continue to show growth at get a seventh regular season win? Are we looking at a lot of injuries and transfers by this time? Will the Mountaineers ever figure out the Cowboys? Let’s hope so, because I’m going against trends on this one.
WVU 35 - OSU 34
Wednesday December 28, Liberty Bowl vs Auburn
Early prediction is the Mountaineers go to the Liberty Bowl. Let’s give them a win.
WVU 27 - Auburn 21
Final Record 8-5 (4-5)