Kelley Ford has released win projections for each FBS football team and they aren’t kind to West Virginia.
Ford has set the average number of wins for West Virginia at 4.5 which is the second lowest in the Big 12 after only Kansas and the 29th lowest in FBS football.
Among the 65 power-five schools (including Notre Dame), West Virginia sits at No. 54 in terms of highest average win total. West Virginia and Kansas are the only two Big 12 programs to be given a less than 50% chance of making a bowl game.
What should be the realistic expectation in terms of W/L record for your favorite CFB team in 2022? My preliminary numbers assign probabilities each team will win *at least* __ regular season games. First up, the Big 12!
Note: games vs FCS teams are assumed 100% win prob pic.twitter.com/9ajM1hEVxs
— Kelley Ford (@KFordRatings) June 13, 2022
The Kelley Ford prediction model is based on probability outcomes put towards each game which are based on Kelley Ford’s own preliminary rankings. Those rankings are based on a number system where a 50.00 rating is an average football team and the closer to 100.00 a team is then the better they are. Last season, West Virginia finished ranked No. 49 on Kelley Ford with a rating of 64.19.
As you can see above, West Virginia was given a 99% chance to win two games. That number lowers to 23% when looking at a .500 bowl-eligible regular season at six wins. The model gives a zero-percent chance that West Virginia wins more than eight games.
West Virginia was only given above a 50% probability to beat two teams on their schedule in Kansas (83%) and Towson (100% which is awarded to every FBS team in an FCS match-up) and were given a less than 20% chance to beat four teams. In order from least likely to most likely, those four teams were Texas (12%), Pittsburgh (13%), Oklahoma (15%) and Oklahoma State (17%).
This is how I got to my number:
at Pitt (13% chance to win)
Towson (100%; FCS assumption)
at Virginia Tech (45%)
at Texas (12%)
at Texas Tech (31%)
at Iowa State (27%)
Kansas State (37%)
at Oklahoma State (17%)
~4.5 wins https://t.co/hfCaGm4bQX
— Kelley Ford (@KFordRatings) June 14, 2022
West Virginia fans likely don’t want to hear this, but the predictions by Kelley Ford are on par with what the national perception is surrounding the team.
Currently the bookmakers in Vegas, who are usually pretty spot on and better than the media with their over/under win totals, have West Virginia’s over/under win total at 5.5. That over/under is higher than only 11 of the 65 power-five teams (including Notre Dame).
In fact, the Kelley Ford predictions bear a striking resemblance to ESPN’s SP+ rankings which listed West Virginia as the second worst team in the Big 12 (Kansas) and lower than every FBS team they were scheduled to face. West Virginia (No. 75) wasn’t within 10 spots of any FBS team on their schedule with the closest ranked being Virginia Tech (No. 61).
Those rankings are heavily influenced by returning talent, so with West Virginia losing more players to the transfer portal than any other Big 12 team, that ranking makes sense.
In terms of incoming talent, West Virginia’s overall class (recruits and transfers) currently ranks at No. 42 on 247Sports. That isn’t necessarily a bad ranking and really falls more towards the middle of the pack, sitting at No. 6 in the Big 12.
Bringing in what is perceived as an average class filled with three-stars isn’t a bad thing for a school like West Virginia, who has struggled during the Neal Brown-era to find players that remain committed to the program. In fact if the players stay and are developed right, then that type of class can turn out to being one of the best in the country.
Just ask rival Pittsburgh, who won an ACC title last year with a roster built from talent classes ranked No. 37 (2017), No. 48 (2018), No. 55 (2019), No. 45 (2020) and No. 29 (2021) on 247Sports. The difference being that Pitt hasn’t had nearly as many players transfer out of the program in that time frame as West Virginia, who had higher ranked recruiting classes in each year from 2018-20.
Therein lies the overall issue surrounding the national perception of West Virginia’s current roster. With a lack of highly touted players that were developed by the current coaching staff being supplemented with, what is being nationally deemed as, an average incoming class makes for what seems to be a much less talented roster than most of the teams in power-five football.
Now certainly these perceptions can be proven wrong during the season, but that is what the national perception is surrounding the program right now.
The comparison being made to Pittsburgh is important because not only are the two rivals similarly sized schools with similarly sized football programs, but they are facing off in the week one return of the Backyard Brawl making Pittsburgh West Virginia’s first test of the 2022 season.
The Kelley Ford ratings are high on Pittsburgh. As previously stated, West Virginia only has a 13% chance of beating Pittsburgh according to Kelley Ford. Pittsburgh is getting an average win total of 9.4 and a four-percent chance of finishing with a perfect 12-0 record. They have the eighth highest win average among all FBS schools and have the second-highest win average in the ACC behind only Clemson.
All of the conference projections are posted. So here are the teams with the greatest number of expected wins in the 2022 regular season, per my preliminary projections!
— Kelley Ford (@KFordRatings) June 14, 2022
The Kelley Ford ratings being high on Pittsburgh is also similar to the national perception of that particular program. For example, Pittsburgh is being given an over/under of 9.5 by Vegas right now. Only four programs (Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State) are being given a higher over/under of 10.5.
The national media also does not seem too concerned with the losses of 2021 Heisman candidate Kenny Pickett or 2021 Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison as even ESPN’s SP+ rankings, again highly geared towards returning players, had Pittsburgh at No. 19 in the country.
Still though, Vegas only has the 2022 Backyard Brawl’s spread at 6.5 in favor of Pittsburgh which means it would be a 3.5-point difference on a neutral field. That doesn’t feel as lopsided as the perceptions surrounding both programs make it seem. And there have been some national media members out there, albeit a minority, who are predicting an upset.
West Virginia can win that game. Just like West Virginia can finish with a bowl-eligible record. Perceptions and projections aren’t anything more than that. For example, going back to the Pittsburgh comparison they were heavily predicted to finish around .500 prior to last season’s conference title.
It’s just that the national perception is expecting things to go poorly for West Virginia in 2022 and until they step onto the football field for their first game against Pittsburgh on September 1, they will be unable to change that.