Skip to main content

West Virginia Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2022

Neal Brown, West Virginia Mountaineers Football

Neal Brown is hoping his Mountaineers can take advantage of a fairly wide-open Big 12 to put together a signature season in 2022.

This is a critical season for the West Virginia Mountaineers and head coach Neal Brown. He enters his fourth year at the helm with a 17-18 overall record, including 1-1 in bowl appearances. But his teams are just 11-15 in Big 12 play and haven't finished higher than fifth in a season.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the usual contenders in the conference (Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Iowa State), the 2022 campaign represents a golden opportunity for West Virginia to make a statement. But for that to happen, a lot of new pieces are going to have to come together, and quickly.

Related: West Virginia Football 2022 Season Preview and Prediction

Graham Harrell, formerly at USC, is taking over as offensive coordinator and he's brought his version of the Air Raid with him. He inherits a veteran offensive line that returns all five starters but otherwise, the rest of the unit is pretty inexperienced. That may not be the worst thing given the change in system, but the Mountaineers' offensive success will largely come down to how well JT Daniels fares at quarterback.

The Georgia transfer is familiar with Harrell and the Air Raid when he started his college career with the Trojans and he has put up some decent numbers, but he's also missed a lot of time due to injury, which is why he ceded the Bulldogs' starting job to Stetson Bennett last season. Daniels has some appealing options to throw to but there are some questions in the backfield following the departure of 1,000-yard rusher Leddie Brown.

Defense was more WVU's bread and butter last season and that could be the case again with a deep and experienced font returning, headlined by super senior Dante Stills. It's a different story for the other two levels, however, especially a secondary that was beset by transfers and graduations this offseason. Defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley is going to need as much time as he can to figure out where to plug in all of the new pieces.

But the problem is the Mountaineers' schedule doesn't exactly allow for any sort of honeymoon period. It opens up with a bang, the renewal of the Backyard Brawl against Pitt with the game taking place in the Steel City. The non-conference slate also features another road game against a former Big East foe, as West Virginia ends September in Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers also have Texas (road) and Baylor (home) back-to-back, although with a bye in between and a brutal November – at Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, at Oklahoma State – to wrap things up.

So with all of the new faces and a tough slate of games, what are the reasonable expectations for West Virginia in 2022? Athlon's editors offer their predictions on how this season will play out for the Mountaineers.

West Virginia Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2022

Steven LassanMark RossBen Weinrib

at Pitt

Pitt

Pitt

Pitt

Kansas

West Virginia

West Virginia

West Virginia

Towson

West Virginia

West Virginia

West Virginia

at Virginia Tech

West Virginia

Virginia Tech

West Virginia

at Texas

Texas

Texas

Texas

Baylor

West Virginia

West Virginia

Baylor

at Texas Tech

West Virginia

West Virginia

West Virginia

TCU

West Virginia

West Virginia

West Virginia

at Iowa State

Iowa State

Iowa State

Iowa State

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Kansas State

West Virginia

West Virginia

West Virginia

at Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State

Final Record

7-5

6-6

6-6

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Considering how wide open the Big 12 is and some of the preseason question marks surrounding West Virginia and some of the teams on its schedule this year, anything from 5-7 to 8-4 feels possible. Hitting the high end of the win total requires the offense to settle in quickly behind new play-caller Graham Harrell and transfer quarterback JT Daniels to spark a unit that averaged only 25.2 points a game last fall. The team returns capable weapons at receiver and running back and is the only team in the Big 12 bringing back all five starters up front. On paper, the pieces are in place for the offense to show marked improvement. The Mountaineers have been strong on defense under coach Neal Brown, but this unit could take a small step back with just three returning starters. The front remains a strength with Dante Stills returning and some intriguing pieces to round out the rotation. However, this unit is dealing with significant turnover at linebacker and the secondary. The guess here is West Virginia finds a way to split its tough non-conference games and jells on offense to pull off an upset or two in league play.

Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
If there was a year for someone other than the usual suspects to win the Big 12, this would appear to be it. However, I'm not sure West Virginia is in prime position to take advantage. I think JT Daniels will fit just fine into the offense, as long as he stays healthy, but that doesn't mean there still aren't questions on that side of the ball. And as good as the defense has been the past few years, pretty much all the key pieces from those units are gone, except Dante Stills, and this is not the conference you want to use for a training ground.

And then there's the schedule. It's pretty tough, starting with a road game against Pitt along with a visit to Virginia Tech and the November slate is borderline brutal. WVU has been pretty much an average team since Neal Brown took over and I think that will be the case again this year. I do like the Daniels-Harrell pairing, which is why I have the Mountaineers finishing with a winning record, but their margin for error is not very large.

Ben Weinrib (@benweinrib)
You don't have to go back very far to see what happened the last time a former top quarterback recruit boosted the Mountaineers' chances. In Dana Holgorsen's final two years in Morgantown, Will Grier (the former No. 48 overall recruit who initially went to Florida) helped the team to a 15-10 record and spent much time in the Top 25. Now it's up to JT Daniels, the former No. 16 overall recruit who arrived by way of USC and Georgia. Don't necessarily expect this West Virginia team to spend all that much time in the Top 25, especially with tough non-conference games against Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech, but at least the offense will be much more exciting under new coordinator Graham Harrell, who has a history with Daniels at USC. Head coach Neal Brown's seat is warming because of mixed results through three years, but the defenses have all been strong. That should provide assurance that a defense that only returns three starters can remain strong. But if Daniels doesn't stay healthy or can't adjust to his third team in four years, there's real potential for West Virginia to miss a bowl game and embark on another coaching search.

Podcast: The Big Ten's New TV Deal, Major News at Wake Forest and What Do Coaches Think of Your Team?