West Virginia Mountaineers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
I might not be consistent in all of my opinions, but I am constant in this - Dana Holgorsen is not a very good head coach, and he is leading West Virginia down a sad and unnecessary oath of sustained mediocrity. He makes Kirk Ferentz look truly elite, and that's another guy who isn't what his program deserves but who keeps sticking around. Holgorsen has some things going for him - mostly that he has a talented and experienced QB when Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU all have new starters and Texas has two young options to choose from. But Holgorsen is Holgorsen, so my faith in his ability to screw it up has no limits.
2017 in a Nutshell
This team kept getting chances to prove that they deserved to be a ranked team, and they kept throwing away those chances. It was kind of amazing, actually. They were ranked No. 22 to start the season and then lost their opener to Virginia Tech. After mostly meaningless wins against East Carolina, Delaware State and Kansas, they were again ranked, but as No. 23 they lost to TCU. Wins against Texas Tech and at Baylor climbed them back into the polls at No. 23, but they lost to Oklahoma State at home. They beat Iowa State and Kansas State, but as No. 24 they lost soundly to Texas at home. They weren't ranked again, losing badly to Oklahoma to close out the season, and then losing the Heart of Dallas Bowl to Utah by 16 points to wind up 7-6. To be fair, QB Will Grier was out for those final three losses. There were some highlights, and poll voters obviously liked them more than I did, but they lost to what turned out to be the four best teams they played, and they just weren't good enough on either side of the ball. In other words, it was a very Holgorsen season.
Key Additions and Departures
Running back Justin Crawford, who rushed for 1,000 yards twice in a row, is gone, but the hype is ratcheted up for redshirt freshman Alec Sinkfield, so the transition may not be too rough. Receiver is a very loaded position for the team, and Miami transfer Jovanni Haskins has a chance to step in and excel at tight end. They have veteran tackles on the line and options inside. The pieces for the offense are there to be quite productive.
There were losses on the defensive line, but the team was aggressive in addressing them. They added two grad transfers - Jabril Robinson from Clemson and Kenny Bigelow from USC - and they are high on their incoming class in the position. They should be fine. Charlie Benton joins from juco and should be a contributor at linebacker, where they return plenty. More transfers add to a decent group in the secondary, where Kyzir White was the only drafted player from last year's team. The defense is as good or better than last year's on paper, but last year's underachieved and underwhelmed, so it remains to be seen if chemistry works better this time around. The defensive coaching staff is identical to last year, which doesn't inspire hope.
Biggest Area of Concern
Not to be a broken record, but my concerns center around Holgorsen and his ability to turn everything he touches into something, well… less than gold.
West Virginia Mountaineers Schedule Analysis
Youngstown State is a gimme of a nonconference game, but that is sandwiched by a couple of doozies. They open against Tennessee in Charlotte and then travel to NC State in Week 3. Before conference play even kicks off we'll have a pretty good idea of what this team is. The problem with the conference schedule is that it is heavily backloaded, and the last month is just going to be brutal. November sees them play at Texas, host TCU, travel to Oklahoma State and host Oklahoma. Four rough games against the best of the conference in consecutive weeks. If there are flaws in this team, that will sure expose them.
2018-19 West Virginia Mountaineers Betting Odds and Trends
At +8500 to win the national title at Bovada , they sit behind 18 other teams. That feels very optimistic to me. They are tied with Oklahoma State as the fourth choice to win the Big 12 at +800. At +2000, Grier is legitimately a Top 10 Heisman contender heading into the season. The season win total sits at 7, with the "over" favored heavily.
2018-19 West Virginia Mountaineers Predictions and College Football Picks
It will come as no surprise that I am not an optimist when it comes to the team. The schedule is very tough. And as good as Grier could be, and as deep as the receivers are, the defense and the head coaching just doesn't inspire. Holgorsen teams are not mentally-tough teams, and that will be needed to succeed here. The total feels right on the money for me, but there is always the chance I could be proven wrong about the team when conference play starts - but I don't expect that.
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