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National Publication Changes Tune on WVU Football Compared to Last Year

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WVU Football quarterback Garrett Greene and head coach Neal Brown after beating UNC in the Duke's Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Dec. 27, 2023. (Mitchell Northam / WV Sports Now)
Mitchell Northam / WVSN

It’s amazing how much can change in a year. A year after being very down on WVU football, Athlon Sports is offering a much different outlook in their 2024 season preview.

In fact, Athlon Sports, a longstanding college football publication known for dissecting each program ahead of each season, has West Virginia ranked just outside their top 25 at No. 26.

Below is what Athlon Sports had to say about the prospects for Neal Brown’s team in 2024.

“Nine wins were a big step for head coach Neal Brown and West Virginia in 2023. The next step is to contend for a Big 12 championship. With an influx of transfers on defense and a ton of returning production on offense, the Mountaineers seem well positioned in the new 16-team Big 12. Quarterback Garrett Greene could be one of college football’s top quarterbacks, and the backfield is stocked with options to lead a powerful ground game. If the defense takes a step forward, exceeding last year’s win total is within reach for the Mountaineers.”

Ironically enough, Athlon Sports is now among the most optimistic about the Mountaineers. Despite the increased expectations from fans and the surprise success of 2023, the ESPN FPI is projecting WVU to struggle to even reach bowl eligibility. Major sportsbooks also have West Virginia’s over/under win total only set at 6.5 and view the Mountaineers as a heavy underdog in their season opening game to Penn State, granted Athlon likely agrees with the latter since they have the Nittany Lions as their No. 8 best team in the country and a contender for making the College Football Playoff.

How Does the ESPN FPI View WVU Football in 2024?

Fans may argue the Mountaineers are being disrespected by some while others may feel talk of winning a conference title is premature, but one thing is certain – Brown and the rest of the coaching staff prefer to be the underdog. However, any of the low projections are interesting, taking into account most of the key players are returning and the schedule is arguably similar to last year.

After a 9-4 (6-3) season and a Duke’s Mayo Bowl victory, West Virginia is hungry to start the 2024 season getting revenge on the Nittany Lions. Penn State beat WVU in the 2023 season opener at Beaver Stadium 38-15. Penn State would finish the year at 10-3 (7-2), losing to Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.

Of course, the success or failure of the 2024 Mountaineers will largely depend on the play of Garrett Greene and if he lives up the hype or stays stagnate.

For a related story, Brown, who was firmly on the hot seat at this time one year ago, has moved way up the national coaching ranks.

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