West Virginia Betting Odds Preview
Like TCU, West Virginia has struggled since joining the Big 12. They've also regressed from 10 wins to seven wins to four wins in their three seasons under head coach Dana Holgorsen. And since starting last year 5-0, the Mountaineers have lost 14 of their last 20 games.
The 2011 campaign, when they went 10-3 with that romp over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, already seems like a long time ago. Is this program in downfall? Or was last season just a bump in the road? This year, with a little more returning experience than last year, West Virginia hopes to bounce back. But with a schedule that starts off with Alabama and includes six more games against teams that made bowls last year, it won't be easy.
With just eight returning starters West Virginia must have figured it had a project on its hands last year. On top of that the Mountaineers ended up suffering a slew of injuries, especially on defense. They started 3-2, with a tough loss at Oklahoma and an upset of Oklahoma State, but it was almost all downhill from there, with a blowout loss to Baylor and relatively close losses to Texas Tech, Kansas State and Texas. The Mountaineers then really hit bottom at the end, losing to Kansas and Iowa State to finish 4-8 SU, 3-9 ATS.
The Mountaineers are now 6-12 SU and 7-11 ATS in two seasons of Big 12 play.
This year West Virginia returns 13 starters, five more than last year. Six starters return on offense, including senior QB Clint Trickett and last year's top three receivers, but they'll have to replace thousand-yard rusher Charles Sims and three along the offensive line. And seven starters are back on defense, including all four linebackers.
This year the Mountaineers will play what Phil Steele ranks as the fourth-toughest schedule in the country. They open with a game against Alabama in Atlanta, later visit Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas, and host Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU and Kansas State. From afar it appears West Virginia might be favored in as few as two or three games this season.
The Mountaineers missed a bowl last year for the first time in 12 seasons, so the goal for this year is simple; start a new bowl streak. But that might be easier said than done.
Big 12 Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 5
Kansas State 10/1
Oklahoma State 10/1
Texas Tech 20/1
West Virginia 66/1
Iowa State 100/1
The West Virginia Mountaineers stormed out of the gate with a 5-0 SU record, but when 2012 was all said and done, the Mountaineers finished just 7-6 SU and 5-8 ATS. West Virginia will try to bounce back this season despite dealing with massive personnel turnover on offense.
With QB Geno Smith, WR Tavon Austin, and WR Stedman Bailey at the helm of an offense that averaged 52 points per game over its first five games, it looked like West Virginia was going to outshoot everyone and potentially earn a trip to the BCS National Championship Game. But the offense sputtered against stronger defenses and the defense was consistently awful, leading to a total collapse and a 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS record over the final eight games of the season.
All but four starters are gone on offense, including all of the big playmakers named above. Junior Paul Millard and freshman Ford Childress will compete for time at quarterback, and while both have solid strengths, neither will be able to produce at Geno Smith’s level. Losing all three starters on the interior of the offensive line could hurt too. Any team coached by Dana Holgorsen is going to put up plenty of points, but the offense will take a step backwards after averaging 39.5 points per game last year.
Can the defense be any worse? West Virginia finished 117th in the country in points allowed surrendering 38.1 points per game and second-to-last in passing defense allowing 327.1 passing yards per game. The Mountaineers had no answer at all for opposing Big 12 offenses, and even in a conference where just about every team has defensive issues, this one stood out as the worst.
West Virginia exceeded expectations in 2011 with a 10-3 SU record and a blowout win in the Orange Bowl, and then failed to meet expectations last year. Expectations are low again in 2013; does Holgorsen have any tricks up his sleeve?
Big 12 Conference Odds at 5Dimes as of August 11
Oklahoma State +260
Kansas State +1600
Texas Tech +2500
West Virginia +2500
Iowa State +4500