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REPORT: Oliver Luck Linked to Houston Job

Houston, TX - Last month, the University of Houston and Athletic Director Chris Pezman parted ways after a seven-year stint. Several names have been tied to the now vacant athletic director position - including one that is all too familiar with WVU fans. According to Joseph Duarte of Houston Chronicle, former WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck is a “name to watch” in Houston’s search for an athletic director. Luck, who played his collegiate career as a quarterback for WVU from 1978 to 1981, spent four years as the school’s athletic director from 2010 to 2014. He’s widely known for leading the Mountaineers into their new home in the Big 12 Conference.   https://twitter.com/joseph_duarte/status/1811874643487408256?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw Since his time in Morgantown, Luck has spent time in crucial roles for the XFL and NCAA. From 2014 to 2018, he was the executive vice president of regulatory affairs for the NCAA. He then served as the first commissioner of the XFL from 2018 to 2020. Luck sued the XFL for “wrongful termination” after he was fired prior to the league’s bankruptcy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit was settled in 2022, according to reports. Stay tuned to The Voice of Motown for updates on the situation. (Photo by WVU Athletics) 

The Mountaineers in the Standings After Week 5

Here we are staring down the barrel at Week 6, and WVU is getting a much-needed recuperation after the dramatic, gritty win in Ft. Worth on the road. Fortunately for football fans, lots of action is still happening this week with a direct impact on the latest standings of the conference. West Virginia is in third place in the conference behind undefeated Oklahoma and Texas, but Week 6 does not disappoint. This week features the Red River Rivalry neutral site game played annually between Oklahoma and Texas, determining who is the alpha of the conference in this small snapshot. Before we get into the breakdown of the Big 12 matchups this week, here is a look at the current standings if you just wanted a little jolt of excitement seeing us so close to the top. TEAM BIG 12 RECORD PCT.  OVERALL RECORD Oklahoma 2-0 1.000 5-0 Texas 2-0 1.000 5-0 West Virginia 2-0 1.000 4-1 Kansas State 1-0 1.000 3-1 BYU 1-1 .500 4-1 Kansas 1-1 .500 4-1 TCU 1-1 .500 3-2 Baylor 1-1 .500 2-3 Iowa State 1-1 .500 2-3 Texas Tech 1-1 .500 2-3 Oklahoma State 0-1 .000 2-2 UCF 0-2 .000 3-2 Cincinnati 0-2 .000 2-3 Houston 0-2 .000 2-3   Kansas State (3-1) @ Oklahoma State (2-2) Kansas State is back in action along with Oklahoma State after their respective bye weeks, playing this one on a Friday night headed into the weekend. All eyes are focused on what the Wildcats will do to pave their path back to defend their crown as the reigning Big 12 Champion. They should not have much of an issue getting the job done in Stillwater with a shell-shocked Cowboys program this season. Predicted to Win: Kansas State decisively wins. (12) Oklahoma vs. (3) Texas If you wanted to see the Red River Rivalry while it still has relevance for the Big 12, this is a noon kickoff, making it likely one of the marquee matchups of this time slot in the coming weekend. Both teams enter undefeated on the season, meaning one of them will take a pretty steep drop in the conference standings by not finishing on the right side of this score. I think the Longhorns are riding high right now and were not stalled by the Jayhawks, but this will likely be their final remaining test of the season. It's almost a touchdown in favor of UT, but it's time for the world to see if Oklahoma has what it takes. Predicted to Win: Texas in an aptly named shootout. UCF (3-2) @ Kansas (4-1) Both of these programs did not have a Week 5 that they expected. The Jayhawks, without their starting quarterback, were picked apart in Austin. The Golden Knights, also without their starting quarterback, choked in the 4th quarter to give up a 26-point lead to lose in the final minutes against the underwhelming Baylor Bears. I think that UCF takes advantage of KU being without Jalon Daniels this week and pulls away late. Predicted to Win: UCF if no QBs unexpectedly return. TCU (3-2) @ Iowa State (2-3) TCU needs to remind everyone that they went to the CFP and National Championship last year, and the best way to do that is to get back to their winning ways. They get served up a pretty soft punching bag this week in Iowa State, who is coming off a pretty brutal loss to Oklahoma last weekend. Predicted to Win: TCU bounces back big. Texas Tech (2-3) @ Baylor (2-3) Is Baylor back? No, I don’t think so. They pulled together something entertaining to watch last weekend and took advantage of a serious momentum shift against UCF. It might take more than that to shift gears for the whole season and take down a Tech team that might be clicking after coming off a win on the road against Holgorsen’s Cougars. They want to stay relevant in the conference by winning the ones they are supposed to, and this is example #1. I think they get the job done in Waco. Predicted to Win: Texas Tech in a nailbiter. If these predictions come to fruition, Kansas State would be tied with West Virginia for second with a 2-0 conference record and 4-1 overall, and Oklahoma would be in third, tied with TCU and Texas Tech. The New standings could look like: Texas (6-0, 3-0) Kansas State (4-1, 2-0) West Virginia (4-1, 2-0) Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) TCU (4-2, 2-1) Texas Tech (3-3, 2-1) BYU (4-1, 1-1) Kansas (4-2, 1-2) UCF (3-3, 1-2) Baylor (2-4, 1-2) Iowa State (2-4, 1-2) Oklahoma State (2-3, 0-2) Cincinnati (2-3, 0-2) Houston (2-3, 0-2) Photo Credit: NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Dana Is Now Coaching for His Job

Dana Holgorsen has been a successful coach nearly everywhere he has been. Much like everyone on their path to becoming the head coach of a program, he would jump around from place to place, beginning as a QB and Wide Receiver coach at Valdosta State in the mid-1990s. His successes continued, ultimately allowing him to become the Offensive Coordinator in three schools now affiliated with the Big 12: Texas Tech, Houston, and Oklahoma State. Finally, he got his chance to be the true head coach of a football team as the man to usher us into the changes ahead as the Big East dissolved and we had to make the unwanted (but now wise move) to the Big 12 – shoutout Oliver Luck. Successes at West Virginia From 2011-2018, Dana would become the second-most winningest coach in program history with 61 victories to 41 losses, putting together some impressive 10-win seasons and a conference championship in the final year under the Big East banner. So when he decided to jump seemingly backward to coach Houston in a Group of Five conference, the nation was scratching its head. Headed to Houston Ultimately, we all learned that they offered him more money than Shane Lyons was willing to pay (ironic considering Brown’s contract extension without merit a couple of years later), and he had connections in the state of Texas. And in the early going, everything seemed to be going great. Well, if you don’t count the seasons starting out where he went 4-8 and then 3-5. The feather in his cap came when the Cougars put together a 12-2 season, losing only to Texas Tech in their opener and Cincinnati, who would go on and make a shameful appearance in the CFP. They took a step back the next season despite starting the season in the Top 25. The hype about the program was real, and they fell flat to Texas Tech, Kansas, and Tulane in their first five games of the season. Then, the hot seat talk began. Holgorsen was unphased and still is for the most part about all this chatter. He seems to forget that Houston might just now be joining a big boy conference, but they were committed to finding a head coach that would make them sustainably relevant after Tom Herman– getting rid of Major Applewhite after two five-loss seasons without postseason success. West Virginia’s Role in the Mayhem So here we are in 2023, and WVU ironically is positioned to be the potential nail in the coffin for the coach who felt that he could not successfully recruit the state of West Virginia with a roster talented enough to make waves in the Big 12. Losing to the Mountaineers at TDECU Stadium on October 12th would be another blow towards Holgorsen’s tenure with the Houston Cougars, dropping their 2023 season and Big 12 debut year to 2-4, including a loss to Rice University. The Cougars face a three-game gauntlet beginning with WVU on the 12th, followed by Texas and Kansas State. A loss to the Mountaineers could begin a conference loss landslide, taking them firmly out of bowl game contention and making it impossible for the Houston Cougar program to justify this as expected moving into a new conference – they want to be competitive now. If West Virginia arrives with the chip on their shoulder they have carried into every game this year, the Cougars will have a hard time matching the intensity. Tune in for the visor throwing and hair blowing in the breeze kind of good time. The game airs October 12th at 7 PM on FS1. Photo Credit: KHOU

TC-Boo Horned Frogs

Cramps are an unfortunate part of the world of football, or any sport, actually. They are real and can occur randomly and temporarily stop the play on the field until the player can get off the sideline and work it out. When playing for hours in 80-degree weather, it becomes even more of a possibility. Instead, when these cramps occurred, they were taken as a sign by the TCU faithful that this was the only way that we could slow down your high-scoring and blazing second-half offensive prowess. Except, it wasn’t there. Whether the Horned Frogs were moving the ball or not, injuries and aches can happen on any snap. Jordan Lesley did not coach our players to travel to Ft. Worth, be decisively aggressive for the entire game, hold the TCU offense to almost no positive yardage in the third quarter, to simply start faking cramps in the 4th. Believe me when I say I’ve seen fake cramps in action. Just ask the Mountaineer faithful what was happening when we played LSU. Hell, ask a lot of people what happened when LSU started getting outplayed. So, the idea is that we were feigning cramps to slow down Chandler Morris, which brought out the boos. Except for an actual injury. When Trey Lathan went down in the 4th quarter, those watching at home could immediately see the severity of the situation from the actions of the training staff surrounding Trey on the field. They were calling for a cart, trying to stabilize his leg, and setting up an air cast. The TCU fanbase was booing, assuming this was one of the fake cramps designed to keep their team from gaining momentum. It wasn’t until the cart came out on the field that the sea of black and purple realized that maybe this wasn’t a fake after all. Part of the world of college football is getting loud and being passionate about your team. We get it because that’s what we do every time the Mountaineers take the field at Milan Puskar Stadium. What happened Saturday night was classless and distasteful in a game I can only describe as plain dirty. I don’t know what’s in the water in Ft. Worth, TX, but that is not the ‘happiest student body in the country.’ See you next year in Morgantown. Photo Credit: Vivid Seats

Big 12 Coaches on the Hot Seat

Even as recently as two weeks ago, the hot seat Neal Brown found himself on was still quite warm after dropping the season opener in Happy Valley, but it has cooled dramatically after the results of the Backyard Brawl and then overcoming the spread and showing up in a big way against Texas Tech. While the seat is cooling, and could almost level out completely with a victory in Fort Worth this weekend, that is not the case at all for the rest of the conference. There are some coaches that are currently playmaking for their jobs, whether they believe it or not. Its only a rumor until some administrator makes it a fact. Here are four coaches making waves with hot seat rumors: Dana Holgorsen         As we know, Dana has never been one to mince his words or hold back from something he feels should be said. He’s more aware than anyone that his coaching chair is becoming a scorching fire lately, but he does not seem phased. He said his contract is ironclad, with a serious buyout worth more than 15 million dollars guaranteed. Unfortunately for Holgorsen, there are already boosters that are willing to pay that buyout to make the team relevant right now in their transition into the Big 12, so a steep price for his departure might seem like security for Dana, but a flopping season and a few more bad showings could see him hitting the classified section of college coaching. Mike Gundy               Gundy has been with the Oklahoma State Cowboys for what seems like forever. In his 19th season, Gundy has been slipping lately, with a 7-5 record last year capped with a bowl game loss and what has been a rough start to this season as well with the squad now 2-2 coming off a big loss to Iowa State and staring down what can only be expected to be a loss this weekend to Kansas State. If the Cowboys do not get back to their winning ways, longevity cannot preserve you – just ask Gary Patterson how that worked out at TCU. Dave Aranda         Coming off a 6-7 season last year, people wanted to see that Dave Aranda put some pieces in place to turn the program around and be the same competitive squad everyone saw in 2021, but that has not happened in spectacular fashion. Off to a 1-3 start, the Bears look unenthused and easy pickings for the conference. If the Bears keep being the bottom feeders, don’t be surprised to see a new head coach in Waco. Matt Campbell Poor Matt Campbell is having a rough go of it. Iowa State has been a team least likely to succeed along with Kansas for a long time, but he seemed (a few years ago at least) to really be turning the program around and making them competitive. Now, it's kind of off the rails, and you have a head coach losing his composure on fans, and that is never a good look for anyone. They did win their first conference game, which is more than their opponent, Oklahoma State can say. But the gimme is gone, and you’ve got a long list of grueling matchups on the way, beginning with Oklahoma. Matt Campbell might not still be in Ames come the start of next season. Feature Photo Credit: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Week 5 Games That Impact WVU Moving Forward

There are a few games happening this weekend that you should keep an eye on while you wait for the late start we have Saturday night at 8 PM against the Horned Frogs. These games should paint a pretty clear picture of the kind of competition we have coming up. More than that, you can gauge how you feel the Mountaineers are stacking up against the competition of the Big 12 while making a day of competitive college football. Here are my three games you should follow up on: Cincinnati @ BYU This Friday night kickoff should draw a lot of attention to the conference, which is good. Given the need for both teams to establish themselves as a prominent force entering the Big 12 this year, this should be a battle for all four quarters. BYU might not be as talented as Cincinnati is this year, and they are licking their wounds after being assaulted by the Kansas Jayhawks, but it is difficult for a team to head into Provo and win. Period. Since the 2020 season, they have only lost three games at home. You can catch this one by staying up late for the 10:15 EST kickoff tonight on ESPN. (24) Kansas @ (3) Texas Kansas can play spoiler to the Texas Longhorns steamroller right now. Austin is a hostile place to play and an even harder venue to win when UT is rolling. But, Kansas had already upset the Longhorns the last time they took the trip down to the Lone Star State. You can expect to either see one of the greatest games of the Big 12 this year, which I expect could be better than the Red River Rivalry/Shootout, or see Kansas buckle under the pressure of being ranked and playing in such a high-profile game against a Top 5 opponent. Either way, this game WILL have Big 12 Conference Title Game implications, regardless of the victor. Kickoff for this one is 3:30 Saturday afternoon on ESPN. Houston @ Texas Tech This is a contest that all Mountaineers should pay attention to, as it is sure to give you an idea of what to expect not only from Houston in our next game, but even from TCU in the game yet to begin. When Houston travels to Texas Tech, most expect this to be a get-right game for the Red Raiders, and dominance from TTU will only solidify the idea that TCU hasn’t yet been tested, that we beat a Tech team that was better than advertised, and we can glean some strategies of success by how Texas Tech performs against the Cougars. Don’t sleep on Houston, though. Dana took this one the distance last year 33-30 in a close loss when TTU made the trip to TDECU Stadium. This one is also set for 3:30 on FS2. Yeah there are plenty more games that you can watch and get a measure of the competition WVU still has to face, but these games should be handily one-sided, such as Kansas State playing Oklahoma State or Baylor traveling to Orlando to take on Central Florida. These listed matchups above should be good football and help to establish the hierarchy of the Big 12 by answering some questions about where teams belong in the breakdown after Week 2 of conference play. Photo Credit: NBC-Dallas

Can West Virginia Win Out?

West Virginia has finally generated some buzz this season. In an interview, Neal Brown just recently stated that he is ‘not surprised’ that WVU is 3-1 – I wish I could say the same. I was one of those who expected this to be a season where the team crashed and burned, hopefully rising from the ashes spectacularly, like TCU dropping Gary Patterson, Kansas releasing Les Miles, and so on. However, that is not what it looks like will happen. Now, you have to have the conversation along with the other major outlets of if WVU is capable of not only winning more of their games but potentially winning all their remaining games. Crazy, right? Some would say a little too crazy. But it is interesting to consider that if the defense continues to hold teams to a limited number, as they did with Texas Tech, is it possible? You must consider that Tech is not a team used to being held to 13 points, even in games they lose. They have not scored less than 30 points in a game this year and only did so a few times last season in their run to the Texas Bowl. Pitt is another example in our season of teams used to putting up points that are stymied before they can. Pitt hosted the (15) UNC Tarheels last weekend, and while they suffered yet another loss, they hung 24 points on the rapidly rising team. And yes, still with their amazing quarterback, Phil Jurkovec. We held Pitt to 6 points when they came to Morgantown. So, when do you feel good about getting on the hype train rolling through? When does it derail, I guess, is the better question? Can you win out in the conference – let’s take a look at the remaining games of the schedule: @ TCU – This weekend will be a true test of this Neal Brown squad. You aren’t getting thrown into the jaws of the University of Texas machine chomping through conference right now, but you are facing the former contenders for the National Championship. Chandler Morris lacks the spirit of Max Duggan, but has the full support of the Frogs fanbase. Lines vary considerably from a touchdown to 10 points, favoring the Horned Frogs. This is an absolutely pivotal game to get people sitting on the fence believing in the team. TCU is one of three seriously challenging opponents on the schedule for the Mountaineers and one of several games WVU is still projected to handily lose. But – do they? Win/Loss: If a win, it comes down to the wire. @ Houston – This will be more of a fight (at least for the first ½ to ¾ of the game) than it seems. Dana does not want to keep losing, as his seat is warming in Houston as it is. It might be entirely on fire if they drop another conference game to Texas Tech this weekend before our matchup on the road. While Holgorsen might not be worried about his spot as Head Coach, you can bet he puts together a well-thought-out scheme focused on any weaknesses we have shown. He has a bye week, too, remember? Win/Loss: Big win for the program Oklahoma State – Oklahoma State and Baylor are both sprinting to be the worst in the conference, and we face the Cowboys first in our games against Gundy and Aranda. OSU did get some life this past weekend but still lost to Iowa State, another one of this year’s disappointing programs, and should not be much of a test for the Mountaineers at home as long as they play all four quarters to completion. Win/Loss: Win @ UCF – This is where I think the schedule starts to get weird. Traveling to play in Central Florida is going to be a challenge. The fanbase there is large and loud, and while I do not believe that UCF is as good of a team as TCU is or Oklahoma, I do think that they are a lot to deal with if all of their offensive pieces are active at this point. Win/Loss: Close Loss BYU – You can look at this like the Backyard Brawl revisited. Slovis was the QB for the Panthers against his former teammate, JT Daniels, last year when the rivalry reignited in Pittsburgh. A high-profile team that could be getting right by this point of the year should make for a rock fight in Morgantown that is too close for comfort. Win/Loss: Close win. @ Oklahoma – There is no mistake that the two teams voted most likely to leave the conference next year for the SEC are leading the conference – at least right now. I am firmly in the camp that Oklahoma has yet to see a real test, and they have a few tough games on their slate coming up that might show us some ways to exploit their offensive strategies or defensive capabilities to slip one by the Sooners in Norman. Win/Loss: At least at this point, loss. Cincinnati – Who is Cincinnati going to be in the conference? Our former Big East opponent kicks off our series of future games in Morgantown, a distinct disadvantage for them. We are going to get one of two types of games here depending on how the game went a week before against the Sooners – either you have a Mountaineer squad riding high at 8-2 on the season, or you have a banged up and tired field product that keeps this one competitive until the final whistle. Win/Loss: regardless of the style of the game, WVU wins. @ Baylor – The Bears will have to work hard to get out of the bad reputation they are building for themselves across the conference. They all but laid down and took whatever the Texas Longhorns had to give last week, so it is not shocking to think that they might only be in it to play spoiler for a...

Analyst: “West Virginia is a 9 Win Team”

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia -- Well ask and you shall receive: the story isn’t how WVU is going to go 1-11 anymore this year. That honor has been passed to teams like the Baylor Bears. Instead, steam is starting to roll in the biggest sports coverage brands like ESPN, changing up many of the projected matchups to favor the Mountaineers, including Houston, Oklahoma State, BYU, and Baylor. We are still underdogs to TCU, UCF, Oklahoma, and Cincinnati. So even if we only win the games we are now projected to, that’s a 7-5 record. Much better than 1-11, right? While outlets like ESPN are never going to say that they pegged this one wrong or acknowledge anything more than the stumbling of the Big 12 opponents, other increasingly popular news programs like Locked On the Big 12 has had a lot of exciting chatter about the WVU program the past couple of days. Their YouTube channel, albeit not the most popular form of their news brand, has a clip dedicated exclusively to the WVU fanbase: https://youtu.be/yk7fUtYq5nA?si=Qm7w3gt1F57YlQH- In it, the host talks about the recent success of the defense and how it is no longer crazy to think the Mountaineers could end up as a 9-win team or wreak havoc and be knocking on the door of the championship in Arlington if you catch Oklahoma lacking. Either way, very different conversation than the country was having when the season began. photo credit: WVU Athletics

What is TCU Hiding in their First 4 Games?

When Sonny Dykes took the TCU Horned Frogs on their fabled run to the National Championship game last year, he had a lot of help along the way. The squad might have easily lost multiple games. Even the one in Morgantown might have been in the bag if just a couple of plays had been different. Even the unexpected change to the backup, Max Duggan, impacted the entire season. Duggan carried the team on his back, seemingly single-handedly scrapping to keep them in matchups like the Big 12 Title Game. That was last year’s Horned Frogs, though. This year, there seem to be a lot of cracks in the gameplay and some chinks in the armor worth exploiting. Even in these first four games, each of the teams has had a way of showing some of the possible areas the Mountaineers could focus on if they want to get out of Ft. Worth undefeated in the Neal Brown era. What Did Colorado Teach? When the Colorado Buffaloes came to Fort Worth to begin the season, many expected this would be a blowout. TCU was ranked 17th in the country then and had enough returning production where they were perceived as at least somewhat of a threat. Did Colorado blow them away with some significant difference in yardage? No. Colorado had 565 yards to TCU's 541 in the Horned Frog’s three-point loss in Game 1. The main difference? Only 55 yards were rushing for the Buffaloes. Sanders and company put up 510 passing yards and lit up the defense. Takeaway: WVU has to incorporate passing more than 22% of the time against opponents with a more robust secondary than Duquesne. What Did Nicholls State Teach? Even though the final score was 41-6, the Colonels of Nicholls State had some gems to reveal in their matchup against TCU. Again, any success that the team found against the Horned Frogs was more in the air than on the ground, doubling the difference between these metrics in their 263 yards of total offense. Surprisingly, vulnerabilities were shown in the turnover game. The two teams tied for lost fumbles and thrown interceptions in the game. Combined with 2 interceptions thrown against Colorado, TCU is up to 3 turnovers from Chandler Morris in Week 2. Takeaway: Our defense can feast on risky passes. What Did Houston Teach? Houston had an unfriendly introduction to the Big 12 thanks to the Horned Frogs, but we do not leave empty-handed. The Cougars put up similar numbers to Nicholls State, with 266 yards of total offense – 225 of those being through the air. Despite being bullied and outplayed throughout the matchup, Dana’s lackluster defense still grabbed an interception and recovered a fumble. TCU is up to 4 on the season in Week 3. Takeaway: Does it seem like they might be giving up pass plays? What Did SMU Teach? SMU was one of the only squads this year that could put up some yards on the ground against the Horned Frogs but still favored passing 258 yards to the 158 they grabbed on the ground. Rivalry games are weird – we should know. All the metrics suggest this one should have been closer than 34-17, and it was headed into halftime with TCU only leading 14-10. You did see the rush defense breaking down as the pass coverage improved for this game. SMU put up more than 100 yards on the ground before halftime, meaning the opportunities exist to destroy the Frogs with a legitimately balanced attack. Takeaway: The rush defense has shown up in the past games, but to improve their weak passing coverage, vulnerabilities could exist if the passing attack is covered. TCU isn’t some wall that West Virginia is about to hit. In fact, I think that with taking the week and working on ball distribution around the field, this game might not be as formidable as it seems. The Horned Frogs are no pushovers – they have only lost one game to a Colorado team that was a lightning bolt running out of the starting line. We must be active and on it all four quarters to survive Fort Worth. Photo Credit: ESPN

West Virginia Back in the Mix in the Big 12

This is a weird and scary time to be in the Big 12. Nothing seems to make sense or be as it was projected or even expected. Teams that should be dominating or competitive find themselves scraping the bottom of the conference, and then you find teams like West Virginia that no one picked for anything fairing pretty well in the recent standings. Granted, we are only through week one, but WVU has been underdogs in all the matchups – so even their position after week one of conference play is a surprise to the nation. Here are the current Big 12 Standings, and then we can look at the matchups for this week and how likely these teams are to stay where they are: BIG 12 CONF W-L STRK 1 Kansas 1-0 4-0 W4 2 Oklahoma 1-0 4-0 W4 3 Texas 1-0 4-0 W4 4 Kansas State 1-0 3-1 W1 5 TCU 1-0 3-1 W3 6 West Virginia 1-0 3-1 W3 7 Iowa State 1-0 2-2 W1 8 BYU 0-1 3-1 L1 9 UCF 0-1 3-1 L1 10 Cincinnati 0-1 2-2 L2 11 Houston 0-1 2-2 W1 12 Oklahoma State 0-1 2-2 L2 13 Baylor 0-1 1-3 L1 14 Texas Tech 0-1 1-3 L1 First place is a three-way tie between Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. But that will not stay that way for long. (1) Kansas @ (3) Texas : The Jayhawks are hitting the road for their most challenging test of the year – playing the University of Texas Longhorns in Austin. This is going to be a battle. Slow starts are impossible here, or you get too far behind the score to catch up in front of this massive crowd. With Kansas being ranked now, this has become an unexpected marquee matchup of the Big 12 this week. If Kansas’s defense plays lights out as aggressively as they did against the Cougars this past weekend, Texas might also have its most demanding game ahead. However, the Longhorns are finding their stride and have not wavered much throughout the year. They should be juiced and up for this ranked-on-ranked competition before their home crowd. Predicted Winner: Texas (7) Iowa State @ (2) Oklahoma : Somehow, the Oklahoma Sooners just keep getting some easy beginning-of-the-season games. I don’t think their performance has been tested, and I think it won’t happen this week, either. Iowa State is coming to town, and while fresh off a win against Oklahoma State, Iowa State is outgunned and unprepared for the Sooner attack. This is going to be a pretty decisive victory. Predicted to Win: Oklahoma (4) Kansas State @ (12) Oklahoma State: Unless the Cowboys figure out something fast, this will be a long and brutal season for them. The play on the field has been lackluster, and people like Gundy are in the camp of not leaning on NIL for progress or retention of good players, so this might just be the norm in Stillwater. Either way, Kansas State is coming to town, and they are feeling good after taking out one of the league’s new entrants in UCF. Oklahoma State might fight early, but I think Kansas State handily takes care of business. Predicted to Win: Kansas State (6) West Virginia @ (5) TCU : This will be a game to watch, not just because of our obvious fandom. TCU has been good for years, mostly. Yet somehow, Neal Brown has always had a way of keeping it close – even last year, in our 5-7 finish, we took the National Championship-bound Horned Frogs the distance. Within the last few minutes of the game, TCU only had a 3-point margin of lead. I actually think this team is playing the best football I have seen in a while in Morgantown, and I love it. You figure out how to get some big plays downfield with some sure-handed receivers, and the Mountaineers are gigging. Predicted to Win: WVU (10) Cincinnati @ (8) BYU : Both teams are coming from decisive losses. Cincinnati faced theirs at home against Oklahoma, and BYU suffered theirs in Lawrence to the currently rolling Jayhawks. Even at this point of the season, you don’t know what to expect from either of these squads, which has always been the case with BYU. They have spent much time being decent with flashes of greatness, but never fully getting over that hump. I think that this will be as close as projected, but the Cougars stay relevant for now and squeak out a win. Predicted to Win: BYU (13) Baylor @ (9) UCF : I believe this one goes as advertised. The Baylor Bears are rather humdrum so far beyond a serious stand against Utah in Week 2. The Bears are traveling to Florida to meet a Golden Knight squad looking to shake off their unfriendly welcome to the conference in a loss in Manhattan, KS last weekend. I think UCF lights it up on the ground, especially if Plumlee is back under center. Predicted to Win: UCF (11) Houston @ (14) Texas Tech : WVU fans NEED Tech to have a decisive win in this one for two reasons: one, it shows that we don’t have as many question marks about our own team and some hype is okay, and two, it shows that we are looking at putting it to Holgorsen’s unit after we are done handling business in Ft. Worth. I do believe TTU makes a statement that they are not the bottom of the conference as current standings suggest. Predicted to Win: Texas Tech

Who Is the Big 12’s VT or Pitt?

With the scope of college football changing, rivalries have to change in ways as well. While we will always consider Pittsburgh to be our greatest rival, we also need to consider looking inside of our own conference to find some bad blood that can broil up into some exciting football. Everyone gets up for rivalry games. The players hit harder, the plays matter more, and the fans make all the difference. Geography has always been a decisive factor in most of college football's most heated rivalries throughout the years, but conferences are changing so dramatically, that geography is being pulled away from the equation. Seventy some odd miles separates Morgantown from Pittsburgh, so fans have the ability to make it to either stadium without excessive travel time. However, we no longer share conferences. So the days of fans making the trips to Acrisure Stadium or Blacksburg VA are not as relevant anymore. We are keeping the Backyard Brawl for a bit longer, thankfully. A true testament to distance not mattering in a rivalry game is the yearly battle between USC and Notre Dame. The Irish were also influential in getting the ACC to pick up Stanford, as this would be a continual conference opponent for Notre Dame in the future if they survived the fall of the PAC 12. So now, we look into our own conference to determine some of the matchups we face regularly that could spark a fire in our locker room and keep things interesting. Something to circle every year that is not and out of conference opponents, and a matchup that ultimately gets played for something like the Black Diamond as we do with Virginia Tech or the Iron Skillet TCU does with SMU. I've given this much thought, and based my opinion on these potential in conference rivals on the likelihood of sharing a division with them in the coming years, and the excitement of the contest played so far. For example, even if Oklahoma were not leaving the conference next year, I would not consider them to be a good rival considering we have only beat them once since joining the Big 12 and only a few of those games have been decisively close. While the cards are being played close to the chest, it is believed that the best course of action for the newly developing Big 12 conference is to split into two divisions based on geography much like the Big Ten has. It's possible that this could be a North and South split, but it is much more likely to be East and West. That being said, the line for the eight teams making the cut for the East Division  of the Big 12 would be: West Virginia UCF Cincinnati Houston Iowa State Kansas Kansas State Baylor Making the West Division: Arizona Arizona State Colorado Texas Tech Oklahoma State TCU BYU Utah Given that this is only 7 conference opponents to fill 9 slots in the schedule, each team will play two from the opposing division during the season most likely. Here are the three most likely conference rivalries to nurture if they end up division mates we play every season: #3. Baylor This will be a pretty easy game because we have always gone pretty toe-to-toe with the Bears. The series sits right now at 7-4 with the Mountaineers ahead, but these games have been shootouts in nearly every season. The scoring actually reflects this, with the Bears edging us out slightly 419 to 415 points across the 11 games we’ve played. This could be a fun conference rival considering how often we’ve played spoiler for the others season hopes. #2 Houston Dana might as well have taken the cupboard with him as bare as some say he left the program. Heading to Houston has been largely hit and miss for this polarizing coach, and this year in particular is WVU’s chance to say we didn’t need him and to keep welcoming the Cougars to the Big 12 with some L’s. Dana won’t be able to resist taking some shots at our program, so this should be an easy game to get the squad riled up for. #1 Cincinnati This is a harder initial sell, but Cincinnati is coming into their own as a program to be sure. Our all time record with the Bearcats is 16-3-1 from our Big East days. But by the time Cincinnati was really good, they were not in a Power 5 conference anymore. Fans can and will travel well to Cincinnati and their fans will travel well to Morgantown. This reintroduces geography into the equation and makes the games worth hitting the road for in the coming years. The foundation for the house of college football is constructed of rivalries and traditions. We need to build some drama so we have games on the schedule worth getting worked up about even if we cannot always make a trip halfway across the country to see it played on the road. photo credit:WVU Athletics

Today’s Battles with WVU Season Implications

With Kansas putting together a pretty strong showing last night at home against Big Ten’s Illinois 34-23, let’s look at a few Big 12 games that you should pay close attention to this weekend to get a feel for how specific teams are developing heading out of Week 2. It is worth mentioning that (11)Texas is playing at (3)Alabama, and likely the highest marquee matchup of the weekend, but it does not directly impact WVU's path during the conference schedule. Here are some matchups you should watch today featuring later-season opponents: 12:00 pm, ESPN, (12) Utah @ Baylor (FPI favors Utah 73.5%) Following a disappointing start to the season at McLane Stadium against Texas State, Baylor looks to bounce back. The crazy thing about Dave Aranda teams? They can lose to a Sun Belt team one weekend and take a ranked team the distance the following week. This weekend will show whether Baylor is a team destined for the Big 12 basement. 6:30 pm, CW Network, Cincinnati @ Pitt (FPI favors Pitt 59.8%) This one features two of our upcoming opponents and will serve as a testament to the kind of team Narduzzi is bringing into Morgantown on the 16th. 7:00 pm, FOX, (13) Oregon @ Texas Tech (FPI favors Oregon 67.4%) This game will likely be a lot closer than many might think. While Wyoming took Tech the distance, I think they have spent more of the summer months preparing for this matchup. As their home opener, this will be closer than predictors think. 7:00 pm, FS1, UCF @ Boise State (FPI favors UCF 77.6%) UCF is a clear favorite here, but much of this lopsidedness is based on how successful Washington University was last weekend when the Broncos started the season on the road. In their home opener with a very loyal and loud fanbase, this is a tougher road game for UCF than it might seem – also a good look at what to expect down the stretch from the Golden Knights. 7:00 pm, NFL NET, Houston @ Rice (FPI favors Houston 68.8%) Remember JT Daniels? Yeah, he’s starting for Rice now. He’s not off to a fantastic start, but Houston’s game with UTSA was a little lackluster last weekend, too. Also, Rice's numbers might be slightly skewed since game one was on the road for the Texas Longhorns home opener. Let’s see how their own home season schedule begins and learn if Houston is a team that can nab a decisive win. Image by The Roost

WVU Could Win the Big 12 Championship

In the remaining games of its season, there are next to no contests in which the Mountaineers find themselves favored to win, except this weekend against the Duquesne Dukes. What must happen is that WVU needs to change the narrative about the team and put together an electric field product. You look at what worked in the past: the 1988 season when the West Virginia Mountaineers had a National Championship appearance. To truly change the story about the Mountaineer football program and therefore influence metrics like the ESPN FPI predicting the probability of victories, you have to show some dominance in at least one phase of the game. Unfortunately, winning the game that everyone expects you to will not do it, and we missed the chance to upset Penn State on the road. You must evaluate the path of the conference games past the Backyard Brawl looming next weekend. There is no way to sidestep it – you have to win the brawl at home this year. Lose the brawl, you lose a lot of the fans who are now seeing the team drop to 1-2.  Enter conference play 2-1, and then we can discuss the path to the Big 12 Championship Game. Fortunately for WVU, the standards by which the contestants of the Championship matchup are determined matter mostly about performance against the last 9 games of the schedule, and things like Penn State likely will not matter. Best of all, you likely do not need to win out to get there – you just must show up in a big way when it matters. Becoming the Underdog WVU started this season with so little respect, underwhelming prospects from the other conferences joining the Big 12 were given more chance of success. Picked #14 in the conference was a hard pill to swallow, but a solid foundation for a needed chip on our shoulders. Even if you get by a trio of Texas teams and the hype train starts rolling, you’ve got to remember they still don’t expect the team to go the distance. Wearing Them Down In the storied, nearly perfect season of 1988, WVU leaned into its strengths. They found their identity under redshirt freshman Major Harris and blew by everyone – even Penn State. Even with the week-to-week successes of the program through the first three games, West Virginia would still be considered an underdog in the game against Pitt and thought unlikely to get by Penn State and the season's final game against the Syracuse Orange. They did what they knew best – running the ball and leaving Major Harris to do some play extending when it mattered most. Redshirt junior Garrett Greene is underutilized if you compare Harris’ numbers to Greene’s, even on a game-by-game basis. There seems to be little in the way of designed plays for Garrett to mobilize quickly, and instead allow his leg ability to be an afterthought to salvage when receivers are not available. There was never a game in the 1988 season where the offense failed to produce less than 226 rushing yards, but the average for the 11 games was 293 yards. If you reach a point where the run game is that dominant, and you can include some short-range throws, we don’t need a fantastic receiver room for how wide-open they will be at times for deep ball threats. Zero Expectation Season You got who you got, and we aren’t a team built for a national title run like the squad in 1988. However, with the remaining games on the schedule – we might have a chance to sneak in the Big 12 title game with some calculated plays that aren’t god-awful trick scheme abominations in front of 110,000 fans in a hostile stadium. So, every game becomes a situation where you realize they expected us to lose this one, so we’ve got nothing to lose to put it all on the table. If Neal Brown wants to keep his job, he will have to stop being something teams don’t even have to prepare to face. Here’s what’s upcoming: Pitt (Sept. 16th) – Must win. If Brown coaches us out of the Brawl two years in a row, there is no conversation left to be had to keep him around. Texas Tech (Sept. 23) – Tech has beaten WVU yearly with Brown coaching. They know how to beat us and can likely do it again unless we match the intensity. @TCU (Sept. 30) – TCU might have been stood up at home in their opener, but Sonny Dykes did not come to coach in Dallas to lose. This will take all the juice in the tank before our weird bye-week. @Houston (Oct. 12) – This is also a game the fans have to see a victory. The Houston team is not that good, and if Brown is still around at this point, this is a way you can begin your conversation about the climb again. Ideally, you have played close games to this halfway point, and WVU is 5-1 but no less than 4-2. However, if you have lost to any of these Big 12 teams, the likelihood of reaching the Championship in 2023 is 0. Oklahoma State (Oct. 21) – Coming off another long week from the Houston game, the Mountaineers should have ample time to create a system of football designed to beat UCF, but that is good enough to skid by the hit-and-miss Cowboys. @UCF (Oct. 28) –This game will be more important for the standings than initially thought. UCF, like us, has a very mobile quarterback situation with Plumlee. This will be an exciting shootout with some tired defenses. BYU ((Nov. 4) – The Cougars are a coin flip because you don’t know what team you are getting from season to season. Their years of independent play made schedules soft, and I expect this to be a nice get-right game for WVU if UCF gives us a loss the week before. @Oklahoma (Nov. 11) – No road to the Big 12 Championship doesn’t pass through Norman in their final...

Ready for Pitt After this Weekend

When former Big East foes Pittsburgh and Cincinnati face off this weekend in Pennsylvania, WVU fans should take notice. You can spare some time from the simultaneous Duquesne game to tune into the broadcast to see who the dominant squad is. Currently, Vegas has the Panthers up on the Cincinnati Bearcats with a 7-point spread, but this might change with more conversations heading into the weekend. These teams kick off at 6:30 p.m., Saturday night on The CW. This will be the station's debut in ACC football. Both of these teams had a big first week, Cincinnati taking down Eastern Kentucky by a handsome margin and Pittsburgh knocking off Wofford 45-7 in their home opener. This will be the second home game in a row for Pitt before they travel to face off against WVU the following weekend. You can bet that footage from this game will be instrumental in how our staff plans defensive and offensive strategies for both games, but instantly for the looming Backyard Brawl. Pittsburgh is generating some buzz on the AP Poll, and a win against Cincinnati might not be all that glamorous, but some stumbles from teams in the Top 25 could see the Panthers ranked before their trip to Morgantown. Wouldn’t we just love to spoil all that ranked hype by letting CJ Donaldson run loose? If you haven’t grabbed your authentic jersey for the Backyard Brawl, many vendors still have some to make sure you are decked out for the game with the most significant implications for our pride, our state, and the potential future of Head Coach Neal Brown. Here’s a reminder of what the jersey looks like for the 2023 Backyard Brawl:

Where Will WVU End Up in the Conference?

Week one showed Big 12 fans a lot of teams’ hands regarding how the rest of the season might unfold. Based on the results, it is essential to look at how these squads matched up against their opponents on opening weekend and if their stock has risen or fallen. Let’s break it down: Week One Losers: TCU – For a team that went on the road and took it to a severely struggling Colorado team last year, TCU became one of the projected many victims for Deion Sanders’ impressive new squad. TCU kept it very tight, so expect the Horned Frogs to bounce back. Texas Tech – Tech was favored by nearly two touchdowns in this contest and got caught looking ahead to Oregon and sleeping on a strong Wyoming team. Baylor – Favored by 27.5 points, Dave Aranda’s team was stunned by the Texas State Bobcats at home in Waco this weekend. The final score in this one was 42-31. West Virginia – You probably caught this live if you read the Voice of Motown. WVU were serious underdogs on the road and fell to stout defense and well-orchestrated offensive drives. Week One Winners by Margin: Oklahoma (+73) – The Sooners were up immediately in this game and never checked their rear-view mirror. They ended up 73-0 when the final whistle blew. Cincinnati (+53) – For many questions about how Cincinnati might perform this year joining the new conference, they had a dominant showing against an FCS opponent in Eastern Kentucky. UCF (+50) – Another newcomer to the Big 12, UCF showed up earlier in the week for a night game, absolutely blinding Kent State with offensive success. Kansas State (+45) – Undoubtedly, the defending Big 12 Champions would show up strong in Week 1. Southeast Missouri State could never get on the board, and the Wildcats won 45-0. Kansas (+31) – Everyone was waiting with eager anticipation to see Lance Leipold’s squad get off to a start this year as they did in 2022. While Missouri State might not be quite Big 12 caliber competition, 48-17 is decisive. Texas (+27) – I don’t think Texas felt the need to get too bent out of shape to coast past Rice. While the score might not be as grabbing as Oklahoma’s, Rice was handily and visibly outgunned for the entire game. Iowa State (+21) – Our former competition for the bottom of the Big 12 had a decent showing in Week 1 against in-state competition Northern Iowa. Iowa State looked competent to move the football and might be a team to watch if their successes continue. Oklahoma State (+14) – Central Arkansas went on the road and gave Oklahoma State a bit more of a hassle than they expected. While the result was a two-touchdown victory, it was much harder fought than it likely should have been. BYU (+14) – There are still plenty of question marks about BYU for when they get into conference play. Sam Houston State of the Western Athletic Conference is a mid-pack team that BYU should have been able to dominate at home. Houston (+3) – This game was underwhelming, mainly due to poor play on both sides, leading to a flat 17-14 contest for Holgorsen’s squad. A win’s a win, though. Potential End-of-Year Big 12 Standings My all-too-soon and rash opinions about the quality of football in these Week 1 games, with Week 2 looming full of all new surprises, leads me to this new projected Big 12 Standings at the end of the season: Texas Oklahoma Kansas State UCF TCU West Virginia Kansas Texas Tech Oklahoma State Baylor Houston Iowa State Cincinnati BYU (photo by The Intelligencer)