Athlon Sports has predicted a 7-5 record for West Virginia this upcoming football season, perhaps being the first major national outlet to predict a winning season for West Virginia.
Most outlets have had the team around the 5.5 win total that Vegas has given them, with the most recent prediction being a 5-7 record from CBS Sports.
”With the fan base already sitting on pins and needles,” Athlon writes, “and traditional rivals Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech awaiting in non-conference play, this is a critical season for Brown’s tenure. Inexperience that some could say provides youthful energy, mixed with veterans in the trenches who have been through the grind, will make for another ‘wait and see’ season…
”A reboot, so to speak, can finally make this Brown’s team and program, but things can also turn south in a hurry.”
Athlon doesn’t predict each match-up in their magazine, which has been available on shelves since May. Their 7-5 (5-4 Big 12) prediction also has West Virginia finishing seventh in the conference.
The final order goes Baylor (10-3, 6-3), Oklahoma (9-4, 6-3), Oklahoma State (8-4, 5-4), Texas (7-5, 5-4), Kansas State (8-4, 5-4), Iowa State (7-5, 5-4), West Virginia, TCU (6-6, 3-6), Texas Tech (5-8, 3-6) and Kansas (4-8, 2-7).
While we can’t know who in the Big 12 Athlon is predicting to beat West Virginia, we can infer that one of their five losses is a non-conference game. Assuming they didn’t predict an FCS upset by Towson, then Athlon is expecting one of West Virginia’s two rivals in Pittsburgh or Virginia Tech to beat them this season.
The record prediction being projected leads to a Liberty Bowl berth against South Carolina. No outcome was given for that game.
Athlon Sports has given several pre-season nods to West Virginia players with eight being named to one of their three All-Big 12 team.
Those eight are offensive lineman Zach Frazier (first team), kicker Casey Legg (first team), defensive lineman Dante Stills (first team), wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton (second team), offensive lineman Wyatt Milum (second team), quarterback JT Daniels (third team), offensive lineman Doug Nestor (third team) and cornerback Charles Woods (third team).
On the offensive side, the magazine likes what has been done. Athlon highlights Daniels as the notable addition while expecting the offensive line to be a strength and superstar potential from the wide receivers.
The running back room is also considered the best Brown has ever had at West Virginia, but was published before the loss of Lyn-J Dixon who is described as a “home run threat” in the article.
“It will be a brand-new look offensive this season, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Athlon writes. “With Harrell able to put his stamp on things, there could be a chance for some excitement, and that will require young players to grow into their roles quickly.”
Defensively they see no reason to worry given the success of the unit in the past under Brown and defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley. They do question the talent at secondary after the loss that positional group suffered during the transfer period.
“Although the defense has been hit hard with attrition, there are still high-caliber pieces, especially up front,” writes Athlon. “The Mountaineers need to establish a pass rush, something they struggled with last season, with few proven commodities in the defensive backfield.”