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Best Case/Worst Case: West Virginia

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
As we rapidly approach another season, it's time once again to have some fun and look at the best and worst possible scenarios for each Big East team. Remember that these are the most extreme options on both sides.

Since we usually go in alphabetical order and make fans of West Virginia, Syracuse and South Florida wait several days for their schools to appear, we'll do this in reverse alphabetical order this time. That means the Mountaineers are up first:

Best case:

Pat Who? Quarterback Jarrett Brown makes people forget about his legendary predecessor by slinging the ball all over the field like West Virginia hasn't seen since Marc Bulger. The offense regains its dynamic edge behind Brown's big arm and Noel Devine rushing for more than 1,700 yards. Jock Sanders and Tavon Austin give defenders nightmares, too, and Wes Lyons becomes a dangerous red zone threat with his 6-foot-8 frame.

The defense is the best in the Big East, led by league defensive player of the year Reed Williams. Tevita Finau shows up and surprises everyone by living up to his hype.

Early in the season, West Virginia exacts revenge on East Carolina and Colorado and notches another SEC scalp by winning at Auburn. The Mountaineers creep into the top 10 as they head to South Florida on Oct. 30 with a 7-0 record. They lose that game in a frenzied atmosphere but rebound to run the table the rest of the way and claim the Big East's BCS bid yet again.

Pitt finishes 5-7 and is spanked in the Backyard Brawl. Michigan goes 3-9 again and Rich Rodriguez is walking the unemployment line, begging Bill Stewart to take him back as an assistant. Stewart shreds his job application.

In the Orange Bowl, West Virginia pounds ACC champion Virginia Tech into submission, capping a top 5 season. With Devine announcing his intention to return to school and young players like Austin and Geno Smith establishing themselves, the Mountaineers start thinking national title in 2010.

Worst case:

Pat White, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. West Virginia's newfangled offensive line isn't able to protect Brown and he gets hurt early and often. Inexperienced backups Smith and Coley White are thrown into the fire but are not ready, and Bradley Starks shows why he's a receiver. Defenses no longer have to respect the pass and load up against Devine and the running game, which still can't convert short-yardage downs. With a suspect kicking game as well, nearly every week is a struggle to score points.

Finau shows up in October, and it turns out he's been sticking pins in little Mountaineer voodoo dolls. Williams' shoulders fall apart again. Other key contributors on defense keep getting hurt (damn that doll!), wrecking the team's depth.

East Carolina comes to Morgantown in Week 2 and pulls off a second straight win in the series, knocking out Brown in the process. Winning on the road at Auburn is too much to ask of the young quarterbacks, and things go downhill even further when Colorado wins at Milan Puskar Stadium. With West Virginia spiraling to a 1-3 record, there's panic in the streets of Morgantown, Huntington, Charleston, Parkersburg and everywhere in between.

Brown comes back and rights the ship a bit, but the Mountaineers still lose at South Florida, at Cincinnati, at Rutgers and most painfully, again to Pittsburgh in the Brawl for the third straight year.

An unthinkable 5-7 record leaves West Virginia out of a bowl spot for the first time since 2001. There are calls for Stewart's head, but Ed Pastilong stands by his man. Meanwhile, Pitt wins the Big East and a BCS game, while Rodriguez leads Michigan back to prominence while earning Big Ten coach of the year honors.

Just when things can't seem to get any worse, Congress passes a federal law outlawing muskets.