The West Virginia University Mountaineer Football team has managed to reach a .500 record at the mid-season mark.
Some fans are surprised, some are breaking down and giving up on this team, and some feel that the Mountaineers are right where they expected them to be at this point.
It’s been a struggle just for WVU to reach mediocrity thus far, but believe it or not, there is reason for hope in second-half of the season. West Virginia has already played Oklahoma and Baylor, arguably the two best teams in the Big 12 conference.
WVU will play Texas Tech after this current bye week. I figure the Mountaineers will at least give them a good game at home, much like the Oklahoma State upset.
After Tech, the schedule eases up a bit. With the top teams in the conference in West Virginia’s rear-view-mirror, we might begin to see some improvement.
Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, TCU, and Texas are all at the back end of the schedule, the Mountaineers do have a chance to be competitive and rack up a few wins with that in mind. None of those teams possess an offense even close to what Baylor’s looked like against WVU.
There’s certainly a chance for West Virginia to make up some ground and show improvement down the stretch. With that being said, let’s revise my preseason Big 12 conference picks, and take a look at how each team is doing. The following is how I would rank the teams at this point in the season.
10. Kansas – It’s hard to move Kansas out of the basement until they actually prove they’re capable of winning a Big 12 game. I had them ranked 9th in the conference to start the season, and they are (2-2) overall, but have lost their only Big 12 matchup to Texas Tech so far. It looks like Charlie Weis’s team is making some improvements, there seems to be a good chance they’ll win a Big 12 game this year, but it’s still early for Kansas, so let’s take the wait and see approach.
9. Kansas State – The Wildcats are a good bit worse than I though they’d be. There’s just too much inexperience on this team and they’re certainly in danger of missing a bowl game. KSU will need to pull some upsets in order to make postseason play. The Wildcats are (0-2) in the Big 12 and (2-4) overall. It’s going to be an uphill climb for Bill Snyder and the boys during the second-half of the season. I had them seventh in the conference to begin the year, but I’m moving them down until they can prove otherwise. The two wins have come against LA-Lafayette and Massachusetts.
8. Iowa State – Before the season began I had Iowa State starting out in last place, but they did just have a good showing against Texas, a game they almost won. The Cyclones are (1-3) on the season so far, the only win has come against Tulsa. They did lose to Northern Iowa to start the season, but they’ve played well against Iowa and Texas. The meat of their schedule is coming up, they do play three ranked opponents in a row. After that, they might be able to get a couple Big 12 victories and stay out of the cellar. They seem to be showing some improvement, it might just be a matter of time before they break through.
7. West Virginia – The Mountaineers are (3-3) at midway mark and going into a much needed bye week. I had them sixth to begin the season, but I’m moving them down a spot after they’ve shown a good bit of inconsistency so far this season. West Virginia is (1-2) in the Big 12, they’ve already played Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor. With those teams behind them, the second-half of the season should tell us if they’re improving any or getting worse. The schedule eases up a bit and I see some winnable games. The Mountaineers will need to find three more wins in order to reach a bowl game, not many even thought postseason play was possible when the year began.
6. Texas – I had the Longhorns in first place to start the season, but they’ve shown themselves to be inconsistent at best. I really thought they’d show some improvement with all the experience coming back, it just hasn’t been the case up to this point. Texas is (3-2) overall and (2-0) in the Big 12. They nearly lost to Iowa State last week and have to play Oklahoma this week. There’s still plenty of time for the Longhorns to get things going, but I just haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe they’re capable of beating OU this weekend. The meat of the Big 12 schedule has yet to come, so let’s see if Mack Brown can get things going.
5. TCU – The Horned Frogs are (0-2) in the Big 12 after losses against Texas Tech and Oklahoma. They hung tough in both games and I expect them to do the same for the rest of the year. There are some winnable games coming up for them, so I expect them to rack up a few more wins. The Frogs have played a difficult schedule and have had three close losses. I had them third to begin the season, but I’ve moved them down to fifth at the moment. TCU should get to a bowl game and still have a winning season, even with the slow start.
4. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys are (4-1) overall after a loss at West Virginia. They did barely beat a bad Kansas State team at home this past week, but any Big 12 win is a good one. I had Oklahoma State second to begin the season, but they seem like more of a middle of the pack type team to me. This fourth place ranking may even be a bit high for them, but I’m banking on them to have another winning season and make a bowl game. They still have to play Oklahoma, Baylor, and Texas Tech.
3. Texas Tech – Texas Tech has been a pleasant surprise thus far, resting nicely at (5-0) on the season. The Red Raiders are also (2-0) in the Big 12, but still have to play Baylor and Oklahoma. It’s looking like a great opening campaign for head coach Kliff Kingsbury, as he will almost certainly guide them to a bowl game and a winning season. The Red Raider program is on the rise, how high they can go depends on their play down the stretch. I had them all the way down in eighth place to start the season, partly because they seemed to be a mystery team, but there’s no mystery anymore. The Red Raiders have a legit shot to win the conference, how they play down the stretch will provide us with more clarity.
2. Baylor – The Bears are (4-0) on the season and have arguably the most explosive offense in the country. They’re averaging an amazing 70.5 points-per-game, which would have to be an all-time record if they kept up the pace. I had the Bears in fifth place to start the season, but they just might be the best team in the Big 12. In the coming weeks we’ll find out all we need to know about Baylor, they still have to play Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech. There’s no doubt the Bears are really good, it’s just a matter of time before we figure out if they’re a great team, rather than just a really good one with a powerful offense.
1. Oklahoma – I have the Sooners in the top spot at the moment. Oklahoma is (5-0) on the season, as they go into the Red River Rivalry game against Texas. They still have a lot to prove against Baylor, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State if they’re going to claim the Big 12 title. I had them in fourth place to start the season, but they’ve certainly exceeded my expectations. Oklahoma still doesn’t have the greatest offense, but the defense has been much improved from last seasons, and it’s a big reason why they’re undefeated. We’ll find out in the coming weeks if OU is a national title contender or just a double-digit win team. Baylor against Oklahoma will certainly be an interesting one, and might just decide the Big 12 championship.