For years now many felt the outcome of the annual game against the Maryland Terrapins was the litmus test for the Mountaineers. Why you ask?
Since 2010 the Mountaineers have only had one losing season, 2013 where the Mountaineers finished 4-8. Maryland beat WVU that year 37-0 at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore.
However, in every other season the Mountaineers have defeated the Terrapins and continued on to a winning regular season record. This season the Terrapins did not find their way onto the schedule, they will return in 2020.
So there has to be a new litmus test, a game that shows the potential for the Mountaineers season. This year that game is Kansas State and it comes this weekend in Morgantown.
Holgorsen and company have never defeated Bill Snyder and the Wildcats. With this matchup normally later in the season the Mountaineers fortune has usually already been told. This season is a little different.
After finishing their slate of non-conference games 3-0 the Mountaineers have finally started to gain respect in the AP Top 25 gathering 51 votes this week, good enough for 29th nationally.
According to ESPN college football insider Brian Fremeau, West Virginia is the only remaining Big 12 team with a chance to finish the season undefeated. While the list of undefeated Big 12 teams is small, just WVU and Baylor, it is interesting that West Virginia makes this list while the Bears do not. Fremeau had this to say about West Virginia;
“The Big 12 has mostly fallen flat this season, but one bright spot has been West Virginia’s 3-0 start. Wins against Missouri and BYU haven’t vaulted the Mountaineers into anyone’s playoff picture, and there’s still only a small chance West Virginia can keep it rolling deep into the year. Our projections give West Virginia a 48 percent chance of remaining undefeated through October (games against Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma State) before they’ll face Texas and Oklahoma in mid-November. The Big 12 champion is not very likely to have fewer than two losses at the end of the year, but West Virginia has the league’s best shot as of now.”
Yes the probability of this actually happening are slim according to Fremeau but it is still interesting none-the-less. Fremeau goes on to predict that WVU has a 50% chance of getting through the month of October unscathed. That would mean wins against Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU, and Oklahoma State.
If that were to be the case, the Mountaineers would enter November 7-0. This would undoubtedly mean the Mountaineers could roll into Texas on November 12th 8-0 (WVU faces Kansas on Nov. 5th, we will chalk that up as a win) and ranked possibly in the top 10 in the nation.
ESPN’s football power index (FPI), which for the record I am no where near being a fan of, has a favorable probability of the Mountaineers finishing the season 9-3. Interestingly enough the game the Mountaineers have the lowest probability of winning is against Oklahoma State, which falls at the end of October.
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder stated be believes the Mountaineers have all the tools to compete for the Big 12 championship this season. If the Mountaineers are able to get past Kansas State it could prove to be a turning point for WVU, not just this season but in the Big 12 as a whole.
Yes the Big 12 has struggles this season, losing marquee matchups to the likes of Stanford, Ohio State, Arkansas, and Houston. Should that be of any concern to WVU? Not in the least, on paper the Mountaineers were predicted to be a subpar Big 12 team this season. Now with the road to a Big 12 championship all but decided the Mountaineers can start their run as early as Saturday.