West Virginia has been the fashionable preseason national title pick
before by many, mostly because of one or two game schedules
coinciding with a decent, veteran team, but this year's version is
seen as something different. It's exciting, it's experienced, and
yes, there's the one or two game schedule that makes it easy to get
fired up about the possibilities.
However, don't forget that in the recent history of West Virginia
football, when the glaring spotlight was on, this program has only
played one half of amazing football and had mega-problems every
other time the world was watching.
The second half of last year's Sugar Bowl once Georgia realized
it had to start playing, the three previous bowl games (all losses),
the 1994 Sugar Bowl, the 1989 Fiesta Bowl, the 2-11 bowl record
since 1987 ... let's just wait and see a little bit before really
thinking West Virginia can get the job done when it has to deal with
expectations and pressure.
Head coach: Rich Rodriguez
6th year: 39-22
Off. 25, Def. 24, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 19
Best WVU Players
1. RB Steve Slaton, Soph.
2. QB Pat White, Soph.
3. C Dan Mozes, Sr.
4. LB Kevin McLee, Sr.
5. SS Eric Wicks, Sr.
6. LB Jay Henry, Sr.
7. FB Owen Schmitt, Jr.
8. OG Ryan Stanchek, Soph.
9. LB Marc Magro, Jr.
10. WR Darius Reynaud, Jr.
at East Carolina
at Miss State
2005 predicted wins
at Syracuse W 15-7
at Maryland W
Virginia Tech L 34-17
Louisville W 46-44 3OT
at South Florida W 28-13
Georgia W 38-35
However, things appear to
be different this time around. Those past teams were above-average and
didn't really play anyone. This team is the real deal, and it doesn't
There's no more
exciting backfield tandem in America than quarterback Pat White and
running back Steve Slaton. The offensive line that flat-out pantsed the
Georgia defensive line in the Sugar Bowl should be almost as good this
season. The underrated and unnoticed defense should be fantastic up
front, and the kicking game should grow into one of the best in the
country with two terrific young specialists.
But this is West Virginia.
In 2004 when Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East, Rasheed Marshall
and the boys were supposed to make a sleeper run for the national title
game. It blew it's shot at the BCS by losing to Pitt in the
regular-season finale and finished 8-4. Can this program actually get
the job done when people are paying attention and when it's expected to
All West Virginia has to do is win, keep winning, and do what it did last year, and
then all doubters will believe.
This my be a top ten-caliber team, but it's not good enough to get through the ACC,
SEC, Big Ten, Pac 10, or Big 12 South without two losses. While other national title contenders are playing other big boys, West
Virginia plays three teams that went to bowls last year, and two of them
are South Florida and Rutgers. You'll have to forgive fans of Florida,
Texas, Ohio State, LSU, USC, and Notre Dame if they're going to scream
and yell in the debate about who deserves what at the end of the year.
If West Virginia wants to sit at the adult table and be considered a
real national title team, then it has to blow (almost) everyone out this
year. A real national title-caliber team wins every game on this
schedule in a walk except for ...
Schedule: ... November 2nd at Louisville. Oh sure, Maryland,
Connecticut, and Pitt should be better, but come on. If those are three
of your four toughest games, you know this has to be your year. Outside
of the battle with the Cardinals for the Big East title and the Backyard
Brawl against the Panthers, the road slate is a joke playing at East
Carolina, Mississippi State and Connecticut. Potentially dangerous games
against Syracuse, South Florida and Rutgers are at home.
Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Steve Slaton. It just goes to show
what a bunch of hooey the recruiting world is. It's not that Slaton
wasn't considered a good prospect, but he certainly didn't come with the
credentials of a freshman superstar and potential Heisman candidate. He
was fantastic in the two biggest games of the year (Louisville and
Georgia) showing a breathtaking blend of speed and power. Anything less
than 1,500 yards this year will be a disappointment.
Defensive Player: Senior LB Kevin McLee. "Boo" is one of the Big
East's most productive all-around defensive players. He's built like a
smallish defensive end, but he moves like a safety. As the leader of a
fantastic linebacking corps, he should be a lock for All-Big East honors
to a successful season:
Sophomore QB Pat White. One
of the nation's best running quarterbacks should be an improved passer
after struggling a bit last year with his consistency. He not only has
to be a bit more productive if the Mountaineers want to take the next
step, but he also has to be durable with top backup Adam Bednarik having
problems with an injured shoulder.
will be a success if ... West Virginia plays for the national title. It'll be favored
in every game but one. Good teams dream about having a schedule like the
one the Mountaineers have this season, but it'll have to get by ...
November 2nd at Louisville. It's the Big East version of Oklahoma
vs. Texas, Ohio State vs. Michigan, and this year, Notre Dame vs. USC.
The winner will likely be the Big East champion, and if things break
like they're supposed to, and the Cardinals win the home game against
Miami, it will be for an unbeaten regular season and a shot at the BCS
- First quarter
scoring: West Virginia 98 - Opponents 30
- Rushing yards: West Virginia 3,536 - Opponents 1,668
- Fumbles: Opponents 35 (lost 14) - West Virginia 18 (lost 10)
The Last Time West Virginia…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Sugar Bowl vs. Georgia)
…missed a bowl game…2001
…pitched a shutout…2005 (Cincinnati)
…was shutout…2001 (Virginia Tech)
…scored 50 points…2004 (East Carolina)
…won a conference title…2005 (Big East)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1998 (Marc Bulger)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Steve Slaton)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (Chris Henry)
…had a first-round draft choice…2005 (CB Adam Jones)