The West Virginia Mountaineers finished the 2011 college football season with perhaps the most impressive performance in school history.
In Dana Holgorsen's first year as head coach, the Mountaineers lit up the scoreboard on their way to a record setting 70-point performance in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl. The offense averaged 346.9 passing yards per game in 2011 and is returning almost the entire unit.
Quarterback Geno Smith returns along with electrifying wide receiver Tavon Austin. In what has recently been an offensive-heavy Big 12 conference, Holgerson's system should fit right in.
While a BCS bowl win is always impressive for a Big East team, the Mountaineers will have to make a push towards a National Championship to be considered among the ranks of the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns.
The climb to the top as the new kids on the block begins with these three must-win games in 2012.
The Moutaineer's trip to DKR-Memorial Stadium to visit the Longhorns on October 6th will be the first real test for both teams. It will almost certainly be a matchup surrounding West Virginia's offense vs Texas' defense.
The Longhorns have had serious issues on offense in the post-Colt McCoy era, and 2012 looks to still be a development year for the passing game. Meanwhile, the Texas defense should be one of the better units in the Big 12.
A win on the road in Austin would not only serve as a huge confidence boost heading into the meat of the conference schedule, but it would also make a big statement that the Mountaineers can compete among the best in the Big 12.
Playing on the road is always tough, but not all home field advantages are equal.
While the Big 12 isn't the toughest conference to play on the road—that honor belongs to the SEC—it is certainly more difficult than the Big East.
Fans in Stillwater like to think they lay claim to the best home-field advantage in the conference, and they might just be right.
The two trips to Texas to visit the Longhorns and Red Raiders can't be overlooked, but the game in Stillwater may carry some extra weight if the Mountaineers have aspirations of a Big 12 title.
If you like big plays, make sure you don't miss this one. Scoring will come in bunches and a West Virginia win would set them up nicely heading into perhaps their biggest game of the year at home against the Oklahoma Sooners.
The West Virginia Mountaineers have been the Big East's premier team over the last decade. If they want this to carry over to their new conference, West Virginia will have to post wins against the Big 12's premier teams.
Being the best means beating the best.
The Mountaineers welcome the Sooners to Morgantown on November 10. It could very well turn into the biggest game of the year for both teams in terms of capturing the Big 12 title.