Hype and expectations are commonplace in college football.
And for West Virginia, the stakes have never been higher.
The Mountaineers are poised for one the greatest seasons in program history. Or are they doomed to repeat the disaster and pitfalls we witnessed in 2012?
Here are the best and worst case scenarios for the Mountaineers in 2018.
Worst Case Scenario: 3-9 (2-7)
The horror begins in Charlotte. Tennessee’s defense looks much improved and stifles Will Grier all day long. On defense, the Mountaineers’ secondary is exposed and can’t seem to slow down Stanford transfer Keller Chryst. S-E-C chants echo throughout Bank of America Stadium and West Virginia exits 0-1. Youngstown State comes out swinging against the Mountaineers in Morgantown, but Grier and Sills prove to be too much in the second half. West Virginia moves to 1-1. In week three in Raleigh, Grier throws 2 interceptions while Wolfpack signal caller Ryan Finley tosses 3 touchdowns and cements himself as the new leader for the Heisman trophy.
Typical of a Bill Snyder coached Kansas State team, the Wildcats limit their mistakes, protect the football and defeat West Virginia in convincing fashion in week 4. After suffering through a 1-3 start to the season, Will Grier and company travel to Texas Tech hoping for better results in week 5. On the back of a potent offense and the swirling Lubbock winds, the Red Raiders deliver even more misery to the Mountaineers. Holgorsen fires offensive coordinator Jake Spavital and retakes control of the offense.
A home game against the woeful Jayhawks allows West Virginia an opportunity at a conference win. Milan Puskar Stadium, however, is nearly empty and the singing of “Country Roads” after the victory is cut short after the PA announcer is found asleep on the job. After falling to the upstart Cyclones in Ames in week 7, the Mountaineers come back home and scrape by with its third and final win of the season over Baylor.
The final four games of the season against Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma play out the same way. West Virginia is stuck playing catch-up in each contest and walk away from the 2018 season with its worst record of the Holgorsen era. Oklahoma wins the Big XII and Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray wins the Heisman. Athletic director Shane Lyons fires Holgorsen and calls on Lane Kiffin to take over the football program. Grier goes undrafted and is delegated to the CFL where he will be Johnny Manziel’s backup.
Best Case Scenario: 12-0 (9-0)
Will Grier throws for 300+ yards and 4 touchdowns en route to a 42-10 drubbing over the Volunteers in Charlotte. Arm-in-arm, the Mountaineers bellow out “Country Roads” as Tennessee fans exit the stadium with their heads in their hands. Week two’s contest against Youngstown State serves a stat sheet stuffer for Grier and Sills who each finish with 3 touchdowns apiece. In week 3, West Virginia imposes its will over North Carolina State in front of its own fans. Grier’s Heisman status is rivaled by only that of David Sills.
The Mountaineers come back home to face Kansas State and roll the Wildcats to the tune of 35-3. In Lubbock, Will Grier’s arm strength is on full display as he tosses 4 touchdowns against a hapless Red Raider’s defense. West Virginia climbs to No. 4 in the country just behind Alabama, Clemson and Penn State. A week later, a 56-10 win over Kansas forces the brass in Lawrence to contemplate shutting down its football program all together.
The Mountaineers upend Matt Campbell and his Cyclones in Ames in week 7 before further embarrassing Baylor’s football program at home in front of a sold-out crowd. After dispatching the trio of Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State, College Game Day announces it will travel to Morgantown for the season finale against Oklahoma. West Virginia gets over the proverbial hump and defeats the Sooners to claim just the third undefeated season in school history. Just a week later, the two teams meet again in Dallas for the Big XII title game and a berth into the College Football Playoff. The monumental win gives the Mountaineers its first outright conference title in 13 years while Grier seals the deal as the inevitable Heisman Trophy winner.
Dana Holgorsen is heralded as the savior and restorer of West Virginia football dominance as the Mountaineers prepare to wage war for its first ever national championship against Alabama.