Over/Under 7 Wins () vs West Virginia Mountaineers ()Date : 09/01/2018
Time : First Game: Tennessee Volunteers vs. West Virgina Mountaineers 3:30 PM
Location : Mountaineer Field at Milan Pusker Stadium
Pick, Prediction, & Preview:
Over/Under 7 Wins vs West Virginia Mountaineers
There is a lot of hype surrounding the West Virginia Mountaineers program entering the 2018 season as they should have one of their best offensive units since 2011 where the Mountaineers scored 70 points against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The 2011 season was the last go-around for the Big East conference but it was also the first year for head coach Dana Holgorsen and the expectations are even higher for Holgorsen as he will be entering his 8th season as the leader of this football program. The offense was able to put up a ton of points in 2017 (34.5) and given the return of some of their top playmakers, there is no reason why this unit shouldn’t take another step forward in 2018. The concern isn’t the offense but rather the defense as the Mountaineers will need to find some answers on that side of the ball. Dana Holgorsen’s 2017 defensive unit was nothing spectacular as they ranked 90th in points allowed but things could go even more south for the Mountaineers as they will have to replace 7 starters. Holgorsen did make the necessary moves in the transfer market though as he was able to add to his defensive unit with guys from USC and Clemson which should fill some of the voids. West Virginia wasn’t great on the recruiting trail this past offseason as they ranked 6th in the Big 12 with only two 4-star recruits signed. Holgorsen was able to add to his defensive depth with 4-star DE Dante Stills staying in state and 4-star S Kwantel Raines choosing the Mountaineers over Florida, LSU, and Penn State.
Over/Under 7 Wins 's Latest Performance :
The West Virginia Mountaineers have been one of the most consistent teams in the Big 12 in terms of making the postseason as they have made 14 bowl appearances over the last 15 seasons. The injury to Will Grier put a damper on the Mountaineers season in 2017 as they finished the regular season with a 7-5 record as well as a loss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Utah. The Mountaineers return more than enough talent on the offensive side of the ball to compete for a Big 12 championship but the concern lies with the defense as they enter the 2018 season inexperienced which may also be the main reason oddsmakers have set the over/under at 7 wins.
Can Holgorsen Break Through?
The West Virginia Mountaineers have consistency contained talent over the last few years but they have yet to break through and win a Big 12 championship. The Mountaineers may be presented their best chance to win the conference championship for years to come as Oklahoma will be breaking in a new QB and Texas has some question marks on both sides of the ball. The non-conference schedule will push West Virginia to the edge as they will see a revamped Tennessee team in a neutral site matchup as well as travel to an underrated NC State team who has stayed in the top half of the ACC standings. To start the Big 12 slate of games off the Mountaineers will have an easy start as they will see Kansas State and Kansas at home. The toughest matchup for the Mountaineers will be their 11/3 road matchup against Texas in what could potentially be a battle for 2nd place of the Big 12 which would guarantee a spot in the Big 12 championship. If West Virginia is able to exceed expectations through their first 11 games they might have a shot at winning the regular season title at home during their last game of the season as they will get to host Oklahoma.
West Virginia Mountaineers's Latest Performance :
The West Virginia Mountaineers haven’t had much success at the QB and WR positions since Geno Smith and Tavon Austin were a thing back in 20111 but times have changed for the better in Morgantown. One of the high points for the Mountaineers this decade was the transfer of Florida QB Will Grier who is a perfect fit for the Holgorsen air-raid offense which we saw in his first season as the starter. Grier only played in 10 games last year but he was really effective in those matchups as he led the Mountaineers to a 7-3 record behind 3,490 yards and 34 TDs. Will Grier may be enough to get the Mountaineers over the edge but it doesn’t stop there as Grier will be surrounded by 4 of his top 5 receivers from 2017. Gary Jennings led the team in receiving yards last year as senior compiled over 1,096 but perhaps the most important piece returning for the Mountaineers is the NCAA receiving touchdown leader in David Sills who elected to come back to Morgantown after having 980 yards and 18 TDs last season. The offense will be missing the top running back from 2017 as their 1,000-yard rusher in Justin Crawford graduated but there is still depth at the position as Kennedy McKoy rushed for 596 yards and 7 TDs as a sophomore in a reserve role. The defense will be the question mark this season for the Mountaineers especially upfront as they lost two young guys to the transfer market. Ezikel Rose will lead the defensive line from the end spot as the senior was the best pass-rusher for the Mountaineers last year with a team-high 5 sacks. The linebacker position was looking good for the Mountaineers entering spring ball but two starters went out with ACL injuries which leaves a level of concern for an already weak unit. The secondary graduated their two starting corners as well as 4th round pick Kyzir White which prompted defensive coordinator Tony Gibson to start scrambling for answers. Sophomore S Kenny Robinson was a ball hawk in his first season with the Mountaineers as he had 3 interceptions with 2 of them going for TDs, expect the former 3-star recruit to have an even better season with some college experience under his belt.
Player To Watch
T.J. Simmons, WR, RS Soph.
The wide receiver corp is strong already as they return 3 guys who posted over 500 yards in 2017 but there depth only got stronger as they added former Alabama WR T.J. Simmons. Simmons played sparingly in his time at Alabama but that doesn’t take anything away from his skill set as the 6’2 pass catcher has a solid combination of size and speed. Regardless of how many guys return there is always room for more receivers especially in an air-raid offense as guys start to wear and tear in an uptempo offense. Expect Simmons to come on strong in his first season in a Mountaineer jersey as he could be another 500-yard pass catcher.
How Over/Under 7 Wins & West Virginia Mountaineers Matchup.
Vegas Odds, Offshore Odds, & Odds ATS:
Over 7 Wins – Even
Under 7 Wins -120
In-Depth Analysis of each team:
9/1- Tennessee- W
9/8- Youngstown St.- W
9/15- @ NC State- W
9/22- Kansas State- W
9/29- @ Texas Tech- L
10/6- Kansas- W
10/13- @ Iowa State- W
10/25- Baylor- W
11/3- @ Texas- W
11/10- TCU- W
11/17- @ Oklahoma State- L
11/23- Oklahoma- L
Overall Record: 9-3
Against The Spread Selection: Over 7 Wins - Even
My reason for the pick :
The West Virginia Mountaineers will be one of funniest teams in college football this season as there offense should be a high scoring bunch for a 2nd consecutive year and on top of that add in the fact that they have two potential Heisman trophy finalist in Sills and Grier. The Mountaineers are my darkhorse team to win the Big 12 championship as they were really good in their high points last season (7-3 with Grier) and given the fact that Grier and his receivers have another year of experience together under the belt it makes this team so much more dangerous. The defense is what truly is holding this team back in 2018 as they could easily push 11 wins with an experienced bunch but in my opinion, their offense is high-powered enough to get this team to the finish line. West Virginia going over the 7 win total is a lock and I like the fact that they are even money.