Schedule analysis: West Virginia

We'll wrap up our analysis of the Big 12 schedules with league sophomore West Virginia. Here's a closer look at the Mountaineers' schedule.

Full schedule:

  • Aug. 31: William and Mary

  • Sept. 7: at Oklahoma

  • Sept. 14: Georgia State

  • Sept. 21: vs. Maryland at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

  • Sept. 28: Oklahoma State

  • Oct. 5: at Baylor

  • Oct. 19: Texas Tech

  • Oct. 26: at Kansas State

  • Nov. 2: at TCU

  • Nov. 9: Texas

  • Nov. 16: at Kansas

  • Nov. 30: Iowa State

Non-con challenge: Maryland. The Terrapins gave WVU a tougher game than it expected last season, but heading to Maryland's home state for a rematch won't be easy. Stefon Diggs is a big-time player, and the program should be improved from last year's 4-8 season. Considering their other two games are against two poor teams from the FCS (Georgia State is making its FBS debut in 2013 after going 1-10 last season), this is the only thing close to a challenge outside of conference.

Chance to impress: at Oklahoma. Expectations are low for West Virginia, but Oklahoma's defense has big questions and the Sooners have shown vulnerability at home lately. There's plenty of question about whether or not West Virginia can even make a bowl game this year, but that conversation is going to change very, very quickly if the Mountaineers can spring the early season upset.

Sneaky-big game: Texas Tech. All you've got to do is the math. WVU has three nonconference games, and should be better than Kansas and maybe Iowa State, though that's no guarantee. I do think Baylor, Kansas State and Texas Tech are better overall teams than WVU, but if it's going to make a bowl game, it has to beat somebody people don't expect it to beat. The midseason game against Tech suddenly looks huge, no? This might mean the difference between a bowl game and no bowl.

Upset watch: Texas. WVU delivered a huge win in Austin last year, and gets to host the Longhorns this time. Texas will be on the road with a lot at stake, and by the time West Virginia's 10th game rolls around, it should be much improved offensively and be able to score with anybody in the Big 12. How will the Longhorns hold up in what should be a frenzied atmosphere against a team that should be able to put points on the board?

Eyeing revenge: at TCU. Last year's overtime loss in Morgantown was an absolute gut-punch of a loss, lowlighted by trick plays from the Frogs in overtime, a game-winning two-point conversion and a 95-yard bomb in the final minutes when all WVU had to do was keep TCU out of the end zone. Brutal. WVU is a much different team this year, but don't think that game has been forgotten.

Final analysis: West Virginia plays five road games this season, which makes its road to the postseason even more difficult. One of those games is at Kansas, but I'm betting the Jayhawks are far from an automatic win this year like they have mostly been the past two seasons. Simple odds will likely have WVU sitting at 4-6 before its final two games of the season against the Big 12's bottom two teams last year, but Iowa State or WVU overachieving could change that.