MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — In his 5th season with the West Virginia Mountaineers, head coach Neal Brown has not even sniffed the Top 25. However, at 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12 Conference, the Mountaineers could potentially make their way into the rankings in the next few weeks.
Penn State appears to be one of the best teams in the nation and a 38-15 loss in Happy Valley at night in the season opener doesn’t look so bad right now. In fact, a really strong case can be made for the Mountaineers being very competitive for the majority of the game against a dominant Nittany Lions’ team. Since then, West Virginia has beaten Duquesne with ease, their top rival in Pitt at home and a Texas Tech team that was considered to be one of the top teams in the conference during the preseason. With that said, the Mountaineers now have a very clear path to a Top 25 ranking:
at TCU – West Virginia will travel to Fort Worth, Texas next Saturday for a huge conference game against the 3-1 Horned Frogs. TCU looked very average in their season opener at home against Colorado and have only beaten Nicholls State, a really bad Houston team and SMU yesterday. The Mountaineers match up well with TCU and leaving with a win seems very possible. If West Virginia can upset TCU, they would move to 4-1 on the season and would likely be in the Top 25 or just outside of the rankings.
at Houston – West Virginia will be back in Texas the following week to play the worst team in the Big 12, the Dana Holgorsen-led Houston Cougars. Houston barely beat UTSA 17-14 in Week 1, lost to Rice in Week 2, got blown out by TCU in Week 3 and handled Sam Houston 38-7 this weekend. Holgorsen is more on the hot seat than Neal Brown right now and with very good reason; Houston is really bad and the Mountaineers should be able to take care of business in Week 6 to move to 5-1.
Oklahoma State at home – Oklahoma State this year isn’t the typical Oklahoma State team that we’ve seen over the past several years and West Virginia should be favored going into this game. Oklahoma State lost 33-7 last week at home to South Alabama. The Mountaineers winning would push them to 6-1 to start the season and almost certainly into the Top 25 at that point.
The rest of the schedule gets more challenging with games at UCF, BYU at home, Oklahoma on the road, Cincinnati at home and Baylor on the road to close the season. However, with a combination of a little luck and consistent play, the Mountaineers should be in the Top 25 and finish the season with a 7-5, 8-4 or even better record.