Prediction: West Virginia Will Upset Penn State

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Next Saturday, the West Virginia Mountaineers will play in front of the largest crowd that a WVU team has every played against. They are playing the #7 ranked team in the country and almost no one believes that they have a chance to win.

But they will beat the Penn State Nittany Lions. Here’s how, here’s why:

West Virginia’s Offense

West Virginia has an absolutely dominant offensive line, a stable of running back that is among the best in the nation and a quarterback that is an absolute winner. Many/most quarterbacks would be intimidated by the almost 107,000 fans, the crazy atmosphere, the white-out, the intensity and pressure surrounding an opening game that means so much to the program.

But not Garrett Greene. Greene lives for moments like this. Garrett Greene will play up to the challenge. This is the biggest moment of his life and he understands the importance of winning this game. I’m very confident that Garrett Greene – with his unique skill set and combination of ability to run, pass and make something out of nothing – is the perfect person to lead the Mountaineers into a hostile environment.

Games are won upfront and the Mountaineers have one of the best offensive fronts in college football with all five starters returning and three of them are All-Conference players first team players. Behind the line, CJ Donaldson is one of the most difficult-to-tackle running backs in the country and has the ultra-talented group of Justin Johnson, Jr., Jaylen Anderson and freshman phenom Jahiem White behind him.

In addition to Greene, the elite offense line and starting running back CJ Donaldson, West Virginia finally has a pass-catching tight end in Kole Taylor, a transfer from LSU. The Mountaineers are certainly going to rely on its ground game, but they now have the option to run play action plays that will get Taylor and the talented, albeit largely unproven group of wide receivers, open downfield.

Although Neal Brown has not been successful in his first four seasons calling plays for the Mountaineers, his brand of conservative play-calling will actually be a major positive in this game. Brown will establish the running game early and his “Vanilla Raid” offense will limit turnovers and stupid mistakes.

A lot of things will have to go West Virginia’s way…and I believe it will. 

If Penn State allows West Virginia to stay in the game, the more pressure it will put on their players. This is a big game in front of a national audience and in front of a huge crowd, and if they have a turnover or two early, the pressure of the situation could cause them to crumble. Penn State has huge expectations this season and allowing a team like West Virginia, who has no expectations, to compete early, will take the fans out of the game and give the Mountaineers a real opportunity to steal this game.

In other words, West Virginia has nothing to do lose and Penn State has everything to lose. A loss means nothing to the Mountaineers. They would move on with their season and move on to Duquesne the following week. A loss would be devastating for Penn State and I firmly believe that West Virginia keeps it close early, gets a key turnover or two, and ends up pulling one of the biggest, most important upsets in West Virginia football history.