There's a chill in the air so it must be time for football. I missed Week One of high school football but that doesn't really matter. It's time for real football...and by real football I mean college football. Might as well start out with what really matter: WVU football.
No Big East team is in the pre-season Top 25. But there's quite a cluster of them right outside the Top 25 which means the Big East and the automatic BCS bowl is up for bids. And, of course, WVU is one of the teams predicted to be in the thick of the mess for that bid. It's also a year for Bill Stewart to prove himself as the head coach of WVU. Last season has to be considered a disappointment overall. This season could be do or die for the West Virginia coach.
The loss of Pat White is what makes this season so intriguing. Can Jarrett Brown step up and replace the legendary quarterback? How will Stewart handle a Brown injury, should it occur (and is prone to occur)? Will Noel Devine be able to break out of the backfield and can he be an every down back? Are the receivers improved? And can WVU rely on the defense to win games?
It won't take long to get answers. After the cream puff of Liberty, WVU faces ECU (which beat WVU last year), Auburn (at Auburn) and Colorado (which beat WVU last year). If West Virginia can win those 3 games, things look bright. If they lose 1, it's ok. If they lose 2 or more, look for Mountaineer fans everywhere to be calling for Stewart's head on a stick.
So, now it's prediction time. I think WVU loses 1 of the first 4 games. I'm thinking Colorado nips the Mountaineers. It's an important game for Dan Hawkins as he has to show improvement at Colorado this season and they'll definitely be up for beating WVU at Milan-Puskar. The game at Auburn is scary but a new coach and a so-so team equals a WVU win. At Syracuse and Marshall are victories. UConn doesn't have the team to win this year so WVU gets off to a good 5-1 start.
At some point, Jarrett Brown is going to miss a game or two. Might as well be at USF, which always seems to have West Virginia's number. Again, the Bulls pull the upset after Brown leaves in the first quarter. A win at Louisville and we set the stage for the 3 biggest Big East games of the season. At Cincy, Pittsbugh and at Rutgers could go either way. I think, and don't shoot me, we drop 2 of those last 3 games. An 8-4 season. Not great...not horrible. Just like the coach. Enough to keep his job but nothing spectacular. Another Car bowl.
That's my early season predictions without actually seeing the team. If we lose to Liberty, all bets are off and I get to update this prediction immediately. This is one of the few seasons where I come in completely without expectations. I have no idea what to expect...and, who knows, a break here or there and this team could be undefeated. But it could also be 6-6. That's why they play the games, I suppose.