West Virginia Mountaineers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
From where I'm sitting, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen is basically Gus Malzahn at Auburn. Both guys were lauded as offensive geniuses when they took the job. Both have been given a lot of time to shine. Both have had big wins and have been good at times. But neither has really shown a knack for building a real contender. If you want to defend them, both have big issues to overcome - Auburn has to share a state with the behemoth that is Alabama, and West Virginia faces an insane geographical hurdle playing in the Big 12. Despite that, though, both teams should be better than they are, and both fanbases are right to be getting a little antsy. I'd have already fired both of them, but I'm sitting in front of a computer in a Starbucks and not running an athletic department.
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2016 in a Nutshell
Last year was the best year of the Holgorsen era. They won their first six games, though a home win over TCU was the closest to a signature win in that stretch. That allowed them to climb up to No. 10 in the polls - the first of two times they would be that high. They lost pretty convincingly at Oklahoma State next time out but then won two in a row. Then they were walloped against Oklahoma before again winning two in a row. And then they were crushed in their bowl game by Miami. 10-3 is a nice enough record, but the problem is clear. They played three decent teams, and they lost to all of them. They beat TCU and Baylor, but neither win is profound. This team was good enough to beat bad teams but not good enough to beat good teams. How very Holgorsen of them.
Key Additions and Departures
Holgorsen brought Jake Spavital in as offensive coordinator. I like the move because Holgorsen had moved more and more away from the pass, and Spavital won't let that happen. Spavital has some issues to deal with, though. Only two offensive linemen with experience return, and the wide receiver position faces a lot of turnover and uncertainty as well. For an offense that likely wants to pass a whole lot, those to areas of concern are a big issue. Quarterback is big in a passing offense, too (obviously), and that is another concern. Florida transfer Will Grier is the likely starter. Since Tim Tebow left, though, the words "Florida" and "QB" haven't exactly been a positive. He's far from a sure thing.
For all the concerns on offense, the defense faces even more issues. The three best defensive linemen are all gone. So is the best linebacker, and the top five (!) defensive backs. The defense has been gutted, and it's not really like they were any good at full strength anyway. This is a big problem.
West Virginia is a tough place to recruit to, and Holgorsen did not outdo himself this year. All 23 recruits are three-stars, so immediate contributions won't be significant. One sort-of-new recruit that stands out is David Sills. He gained fame by being offered a scholarship by Lane Kiffin at USC when he was in seventh grade. He joined West Virginia at QB out of high school, made no progress, went to juco last year, and is now back as a wide receiver. He is getting buzz at his new position and could get a chance to play.
West Virginia Mountaineers Schedule Analysis
They start their season with a likely loss when they play Virginia Tech at FedEx Field. Three easier games follow, but trips to Baylor and TCU will be tough for this squad. Home games against Oklahoma State and Texas also aren't likely to go well, and finishing the season with a trip to Oklahoma almost qualifies as cruelty. A trip to Kansas State won't be easy, either. So, there are seven games that they are more likely to lose than win. Ouch. For this team .500 is a reasonable goal given the turnover. Good teams do not aim for .500.
2017-18 West Virginia Mountaineers Betting Odds and Trends
West Virginia is at +12500 at BetOnline to win the national title, which places them behind 28 other teams. Many of those 28 teams stand absolutely no chance of winning a title, so read into this price what you will. The path to a national title with six regular-season wins is one that is hard to imagine, though. At +1600 to win the Big 12 they are sixth in the 10-team conference. That mostly tells you how bad the bottom end of the Big 12 is. Somewhat surprisingly in my eyes, Virginia Tech is only favored by 4.5 points in that season-opening contest.
2017-18 West Virginia Mountaineers Predictions and College Football Picks
The team is in a rebuild, and the schedule isn't easy. As I said before, I see six games as a likely ceiling and eight as a miracle best-case scenario. Holgorsen will likely get another year, though - unless things really fall apart.
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