Sure, West Virginia could lose to Auburn and still win the Big East, go to a BCS bowl and finish ranked. Sure, WVU could lose to Auburn and Bill Stewart could still navigate the waters through Pittsburgh and South Florida. Sure, the Mountaineers could lose to Auburn and fans would forget by the end of the season if things turn around. But there's still a growing sentiment that if WVU loses this game to Auburn the season could be lost. Fair or not, Auburn is a moment of truth for this Mountaineer team and for head coach Bill Stewart.
At the beginning of the season, this game between WVU and Auburn was supposed to be a battle between the team expected to the win the Big East and the team fighting for an SEC championship. But WVU blew two games early and, beginning with a 3-2 victory over Mississippi State, the wheels fell off the Auburn offense. Since that narrow victory, Auburn has lost 3 of 4 and fired their offensive coordinator. WVU can't score, posting more than 30 points only against FCS Villanova. Auburn can't score, posting more than 30 points only against FCS Louisiana-Monroe.
Auburn is only averaging 292.6 yards per game compared to WVU's 347.0. But WVU hasn't played LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt (who is decent) and Arkansas. So to say that WVU holds a distinct offensive advantage is disingenuous. On paper, this appears to be a defensive struggle but it definitely shouldn't be. WVU should have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. And Auburn's offense should be fine. The fact that neither has shown any life at all is a real puzzle.
I don't know what tomorrow will bring but I do know that many more Mountaineer fans will be calling for Bill Stewart's head if the Mountaineers lose to the underachieving Auburn Tigers. It's a sad state of affairs for both teams tomorrow night. Both expected to achieve great things. Both failing miserably.