Will Grier and the Mountaineers will take on Tennessee and NC State before opening Big 12 play
The West Virginia Mountaineers followed up a 10-win season in 2016, with a 7-6 campaign last year. Granted, star quarterback Will Grier went down late in the season with a gruesome finger injury and the Mountaineers would lose each of their following games.
As is the case for each team in the Big 12, every year teams either have five home games or five road games. This year, it’s five games in Morgantown, which is traditionally one of the toughest places to play in the conference. There also are two fun and fascinating non-conference matchups to look forward to against Tennessee and NC State.
West Virginia Mountaineers 2018 Schedule
Bye: Week 8
Week 1 – Sept. 1 vs. Tennessee (Bank of America Stadium - Charlotte, N.C.)
Tennessee became the laughing stock of the college football world with its coaching search this offseason. The good news for Volunteers fans is that Jeremy Pruitt appears to be the real deal. However, this will be the first game of what could be a somewhat long rebuild (at least by UT fans’ expectations). The Vols are coming off a 4-8 season, which includes going 0-8 in the SEC.
Week 2 – Sept. 8 vs. Youngstown State (Morgantown, W.Va.)
For the second time in three years, these two teams meet in Morgantown. In 2016, the Penguins from the FCS ranks went 11-3, but stumbled to a 6-5 record last season under former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini.
Week 3 – Sept. 15 at NC State (Raleigh, N.C.)
NC State remains strong on the defensive line, and watching this unit try and get to Will Grier and slow down the WVU offense will be one of the best matchups in college football in the opening month of the season. And while some programs and coaches try to avoid Power 5 teams in non-conference play, give the Mountaineers credit for scheduling an SEC and ACC program in the first three weeks.
Week 4 – Sept. 22 vs. Kansas State (Morgantown, W.Va.)
These two teams seem to always play close games. Three years ago, K-State rallied for a 24-23 win. In 2016 in Morgantown it was WVU with a late field goal for the 17-16 victory. Last season, the Mountaineers hung on for the 28-23 victory. You get the point. No reason that these two won’t play a tough one again this fall.
Week 5 – Sept. 29 at Texas Tech (Lubbock, Texas)
In a season where Kliff Kingsbury is playing for his coaching future, Tech will be a tough out, especially in Lubbock, a road environment that can often give visiting teams trouble. Tech’s defense forced 26 turnovers last season, second most in the Big 12, while WVU didn’t take care of the ball, losing it 26 times, tied for the most in the conference.
Week 6 – Oct. 6 vs. Kansas (Morgantown, W.Va.)
Last season, Khalil Herbert rushed for nearly 300 yards against WVU, which allowed the Jayhawks to give the Mountaineers a bit of a scare. But even that couldn’t do the trick as WVU rolled to a 56-34 win. This year’s matchup is in Morgantown.
Week 7 – Oct. 13 at Iowa State (Ames, Iowa)
It was an ugly game between these two last season, resulting in a 20-16 home win for West Virginia. But both teams should be in the top half of the Big 12 standings this season, so this mid-October get-together could decide which one of these teams can be a front-runner in the conference race.
Week 9 – Oct. 25 vs. Baylor (Morgantown, W.Va.)
The Bears are coming off a one-win season, but a wild fourth-quarter comeback last year almost resulted in a Baylor victory against WVU. The Mountaineers held on for the 38-36 win and they won’t be taking the Bears as lightly this season, especially with the incoming transfers (Jalen Hurd, etc.) expected to suit up for Baylor this fall.
Week 10 – Nov. 3 at Texas (Austin, Texas)
This was the game that Will Grier banged up his finger in last November. Tom Herman has the Longhorns trending in the right direction and if they live up to expectations, it wouldn’t be shocking to see first place in the Big 12 being on the line in this game.
Week 11 – Nov. 10 vs. TCU (Morgantown, W.Va.)
TCU launched into the top five of the rankings last season and their early-season matchup against WVU helped propel the Horned Frogs there. TCU scored late for the 31-24 win, but WVU fans still remember some questionable calls down the stretch in Fort Worth. This time, WVU is at home, and TCU is replacing nearly two dozen seniors from last year’s team.
Week 12 – Nov. 17 at Oklahoma State (Stillwater, Okla.)
The Mountaineers have lost three in a row against the Cowboys by an average of nearly 12 points per game. It’s always a high-scoring affair between these two, and there’s very little reason to believe this year will be any different.
Week 13 – Nov. 23 vs. Oklahoma (Morgantown, W.Va.)
Could we be looking at these two teams playing each other in back-to-back weeks? That would be the case if they are at the top of the conference standings by late November, as the Big 12 Championship Game takes place the following week in Arlington, Texas.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.