One month from today the West Virginia Mountaineers will open the 2016 season against the Missouri Tigers. There are certainly a lot of questions surrounding this team such as: Can the defense fill the voids left as a result of graduation and the NFL draft? Will Coach Dana Holgorsen be kept on as Head Coach or is the Holgorsen era drawing to a close? How will the offense with its 10 returning starters perform?
Similar to the past few seasons it seems like this year’s team is tough to gauge and as usual the season could hinge on a few key conference games. If anything 2016 will be an indicator on where the future of the program is headed. So below is our prediction on how the 2016 football season will unfold.
Game 1 – Saturday September 3rd at 12:00 PM EST
Missouri Tigers at West Virginia Mountaineers
The opener should be a good match up for WVU. Missouri will have a stout defense (eight returning starters) but will likely struggle on offense again in 2016. First year head coach, Barry Odom will be making his debut on the road in a tough environment against what should be an electric Mountaineer offense. I give the edge to West Virginia in this one. Look for West Virginia to get out to an early lead and coast to an impressive victory.
West Virginia – 31 Missouri – 14
Game 2 – Saturday September 10th at 2:00 PM EST
Youngstown St. Penguins at West Virginia Mountaineers
Bo Pelini’s Youngstown St. Penguins might look like a “gimee” game on paper but the Mountaineers would be wise not to look past the Missouri Valley Conference foe. The Penguins should have a very good defense and will look to control the clock on offense by utilizing the ground game. With that said as long as the Mountaineers can avoid a let down mentally they should coast to win number two.
West Virginia – 42 Youngstown St. – 14
Game 3 – Saturday September 24th Time: TBA
Brigham Young Cougars vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
BYU and West Virginia will meet for the first time ever at FedEx Field in Landover Maryland. This will likely turn out to be a glorified home game for WVU but it doesn’t make the match up any less interesting. BYU will have a first year coach in Kalani Sitake who hired a host of former BYU players including Ty Detmer as his assistants. The Cougars will still be adjusting to new schemes on offense and defense so it’s to WVU’s advantage to see BYU early on in the season. With that said this game will still be a tight. Could this be a future Big 12 match-up? Time will tell.
West Virginia – 28 BYU – 21
Game 4 – Saturday October 1st Time: TBA
Kansas St. Wildcats at West Virginia Mountaineers
WVU nemesis Bill Snyder and Kansas State visit Morgantown on October 1st. It seems like Kansas State even in down years finds a way to top West Virginia. This year might be WVU’s best shot to take down Kansas State. West Virginia get them at home, early in the season, and during what is perceived as a down year for the Wildcats. The Mountaineers will get the Kansas St. monkey off their back in 2016.
West Virginia – 24 Kansas St. – 21
Game 5 – Saturday October 15th Time: TBA
West Virginia Mountaineers at Texas Tech Red Raiders
This is the first key Big 12 match up that could determine the course of the season for West Virginia. They will travel to Lubbock to face the Red Raiders. The Red Raiders should have a good offense led by returning QB Patrick Mahomes but the receiving corps got hit hard by graduation. The Red Raiders’ defense could again be the Achilles heel for Texas Tech which is what makes this game very winnable for WVU. Expect a shoot out with West Virginia winning late.
West Virginia – 38 Texas Tech – 35
Game 6 – Saturday October 22nd Time:TBA
Texas Christian Horned Frogs at West Virginia Mountaineers
Although West Virginia gets TCU at home and following a tough game against Oklahoma this will be a tough test. West Virginia could very well be 5-0 so this game could have huge implications as far as standings in the Big 12 go. TCU shouldn’t fall off too much talent wise from 2015 and their defense could be much improved. With solid quarterback play TCU should compete for conference title and a place in the college football playoffs. West Virginia will make it competitive but will be dealt their first loss of the season.
TCU – 28 West Virginia – 21
Game 7 – Saturday October 29th TIme: TBA
West Virginia Mountaineers at Oklahoma State Cowboys
The schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Mountaineers travel to Stillwater to meet the Cowboys. Oklahoma State should be much improved in 2016 as they are loaded with returning starters including 9 on offense alone. The travel, tough environment, and hangover from a tough game the week before will prove to be too much for the Mountaineers in this one.
Oklahoma State – 35 West Virginia – 17
Game 8 – Saturday November 5th Time: TBA
Kansas Jayhawks at West Virginia Mountaineers
After playing Okie St. and TCU back to back the Mountaineers play lowly Kansas at the perfect time. Kansas will struggle again in 2016 and West Virginia should have no problem regaining some confidence and breaking their losing streak against Kansas.
West Virginia – 48 Kansas -21
Game 9 – Saturday November 12th Time: TBA
West Virginia Mountaineers at Texas Longhorns
A battle of two coaches who are squarely on the hot seat in 2016. Like the Texas Tech game this is another toss up conference game that will go a long way in defining the Mountaineers season. Texas will be breaking in a new high tempo “Baylor like” offense but it still should be an upgrade from year ago. The Longhorns will have a sold athletic defense but will have some holes to fill along the defensive line. West Virginia could elect to ground and pound against Texas with Rushel Shell. West Virginia will get a nice victory in Austin as Shell runs freely behind West Virginia’s dominant offensive line.
West Virginia – 27 Texas – 21
Game 10 – Saturday November 19th Time: TBA
Oklahoma Sooners at West Virginia Mountaineers
The Mountaineers return home to take on the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma returns 12 starters from last year’s eleven win squad. WVU has not beaten Oklahoma since joining the Big 12 and this year a win will be tough to come by. The Sooners return electric quarterback Baker Mayfield and stud running back Samaje Perine. West Virginia will keep it close but in the end the Oklahoma offense will be too much to slow down.
Oklahoma – 35 West Virginia – 21
Game 11 – Saturday November 26th Time:TBA
West Virginia Mountaineers at Iowa State Cyclones
The Mountaineers will travel to Ames looking to close out the road schedule with a Big 12 win. Iowa State’s new head coach Matt Campbell will look to run the ball and control the clock with running back Mike Warren. Iowa State’s defense might again be a trouble spot which the WVU offense will look to exploit. West Virginia should be able to handle the Cyclones in this one.
West Virginia – 35 Iowa State – 10
Game 12 – Saturday December 3 Time: TBA
Baylor Bears at West Virginia Mountaineers
WVU will close out the 2016 regular season against Baylor at Mountaineer Field. Baylor has had a difficult off-season which included the removal of head coach Art Briles. Baylor has never visited Morgantown in December, where weather will almost certainly come into play. Baylor returns QB Seth Russell and some talent at wide receiver but will have holes to fill along the offensive line and on defense. This game has letdown written all over for Baylor and the Mountaineers will capitalize and end the season on a high note.
West Virginia – 42 Baylor – 38
FINAL RECORD 9 – 3
BOWL PREDICTION: Alamo Bowl