As any good coach will tell you, the most important game is “the next one on the schedule.”
Every game is important, but we all know that some games carry more weight, especially in the eyes of the Playoff Committee.
Mountaineer fans have high aspirations for this season, so we’re taking a look at the most important regular season games.
PADDING THE STATS —
12. Kansas (Oct. 6)
WVU has performed well against KU, with a 5-1 record since joining the Big 12. No victory is guaranteed, but the Mountaineers should win this one easily.
11. Youngstown State (Sept 8)
Youngstown is one of the better teams in the FCS, but if the preseason hype surrounding WVU is legit, this should provide another easy win for the Mountaineers.
10. Texas Tech (Sept. 29)
WVU holds a 4-2 record over Tech since joining the Big 12 and has won the last four times they’ve met. Tech has struggle on defense over the last several seasons; with WVU’s improved offense, this game should be a matter of strength vs weakness.
9. Baylor (Oct. 10)
The Baylor football program is a shell of what it once was. The Bears are being projected to finish near the bottom of the conference.
THE RESUME BUILDERS —
8. Kansas State (Sept. 22)
K-State had been a thorn in WVU’s side for much of the Big 12 era. West Virginia has won the last two games in the series, though, so Dana and his staff may have figured out how to beat the Wildcats. With home field advantage and an improved team, WVU should be able to open conference play with a win.
7. Oklahoma State (Nov. 17)
This was a hard game to rank, as OSU’s season could be pretty unpredictable. They will be trying to replace the likes of Mason Rudolph and James Washington and are projected by many to finish in the middle of the conference. However, Mike Gundy has proven himself to be a great coach. The Cowboys could surpass expectations.
6. Iowa State (Oct. 10)
Iowa State jumped from fighting Kansas for last place in the Big 12 to having a legitimate shot to make the title game. Iowa is projected to finish 7th in the conference this year; a win in Ames would be a good resume-builder.
KEY GAMES —
5. TCU (Nov. 10)
West Virginia is projected to finish second in the conference, and TCU is a close third. With a rebuilt defense and an improved offense, TCU will likely be one of the more difficult games on the schedule. A win against the Frogs would be very beneficial to the Mountaineers on Selection Day.
4. Tennessee (Sept. 1)
The first game of the season. This game could potentially set the tone for WVU’s season. The Mountaineers will have a lot to prove this year, and a high-profile win against an SEC opponent could kick off the season with a bang. On the other hand, a loss here would immediately recalibrate fan expectations for the season.
3. NC State (Sept. 15)
NC State is coming off a great season last year, and they are returning one of the top QBs in college football in Ryan Finley. Coming off the Youngstown State game, and just before they start Big 12 play, WVU cannot overlook the Wolf Pack.
2. Texas (Nov. 3)
Over the past several seasons, the Mountaineers have drawn brutal schedules in November, and 2018 is no different. This season, West Virginia will face Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State in the lead-up to the finale against Oklahoma. Because of its position at the start of this stretch, the game in Austin is critical.
1. Oklahoma (Nov. 23)
The game you would expect to be at the top of the list. The Mountaineers are winless against OU since joining the Big 12. Oklahoma is the popular big to remain atop the Big 12 conference, and many are projecting another playoff appearance for the Sooners. It’s unlikely that the Mountaineers will enter the final week undefeated, and with the conference’s parity over the last several seasons, West Virginia will need to pull off their first Big 12 victory against OU if they want to make the conference championship game.