Does West Virginia have what it takes to win the Big 12 Conference in its first season?
After plenty of speculation, months of litigation, and finally a multi-million dollar settlement, West Virginia is ready to take the field as a member of the Big 12 Conference.
WVU's high-flying offense should fit right in along with the many other explosive offenses that call the Big 12 home.
However, for Mountaineer nation, simply fitting in just isn't enough.
West Virginia believes it can make the adventure into unfamiliar territory and stake its claim as early as this season.
It certainly won't be easy for a team that barely won the Big East Conference last season to make the move to the stronger Big 12 and take the crown.
Here's how the Mountaineers plan to conquer the Big 12 this season:
Texas may not be West Virginia's most formidable opponent in the Big 12 conference this year, but the Oct. 6 matchup in Austin will be its first true test.
WVU should be able to fend off a rebuilding Baylor squad at home in its conference opener, which will be a good warm up for its first time on the road in the Big 12.
Defeating Texas in that first road test will be a huge statement, showing the rest of the conference that the Mountaineers mean business.
The Longhorns see themselves as the kings of the Big 12, so they will certainly be looking to defend their territory against the newcomers from the north.
If the Mountaineers expect to conquer the Big 12 right away, topping Texas is definitely step one.
To keep up with the rest of the scoreboard-igniting offenses in the Big 12, West Virginia will have to control the skies.
Last season, quarterback Geno Smith practically rewrote the WVU record book, netting a school record 4,385 yards through the air, while also surpassing Marc Bulger's completion and attempt records.
Meanwhile, receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin had 1,279 and 1,186 receiving yards respectively, taking the top two spots in the West Virginia single season record book.
All of these records may have to be topped again if the Mountaineers are to take control of the Big 12.
Also, keep an eye on freshman receiver Jordan Thompson.
The Katy, Texas native is ready to make an impact after enrolling early and bursting onto the scene at WVU's spring game.
Next, West Virginia have to defend Morgantown from two strong opponents in consecutive games.
Luckily, the Mountaineers will have a week of preparation between their match-ups with Kansas St. and fellow newcomer TCU.
On Oct. 20, WVU will face an experienced, dual-threat quarterback in Collin Klein, and don't expect Klein and the Wildcats to be intimidated by the home crowd at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Stopping the Loveland, Colo. native will be the key to driving the Wildcats out of Morgantown and back to Manhattan.
Then, West Virginia will have just one week to prepare for another team that is looking to stake its claim in Big 12 territory.
TCU will bring in another experienced quarterback in Casey Pachall, who threw for just less than 3,000 yards last season.
You can expect this matchup to be a shootout, as the Horned Frogs were the No. 9 scoring offense in the nation a year ago.
Both squads will be a tough out for WVU, even in the comfort of Morgantown.
The West Virginia players will need to draw heavily from the experience of their coaching staff, especially as the Big 12 season wears on.
Sure, head coach Dana Holgorsen has just one year of head coaching experience under his belt and his staff as a whole is relatively young.
But, to help ease the transition into the Mountaineers' new conference, the former Big 12 assistant has compiled a staff around him that, combined, has more than two dozen years of coaching experience in the Big 12 conference alone.
Holgorsen, defensive coordinator Joe DeForest, and running backs coach Robert Gillespie came straight to West Virginia from Oklahoma State.
The combined experience of this staff could prove to be invaluable to help the Mountaineer athletes deal with the rigors of the Big 12 regular season.
In what should be West Virginia's final major test, yet another experienced quarterback will make his way into Morgantown.
Oklahoma enters the Big 12 season as the favorite to take the conference crown.
This Nov. 17 showdown could very well decide who is the conference champion, making this an obvious must-win game.
If the Mountaineers can take down the current big dog of the Big 12, they will be in the driver's seat to conquer their new conference.
The Sooners certainly won't go down without a fight, though.
Expect this late-season game to be electric, as last year's No. 5 (OU) and No. 6 (WVU) passing offenses could be playing for a BCS (and perhaps even a national title) birth.
Last season, West Virginia slipped in through the backdoor with a 5-2 conference record to take the Big East title and earn an Orange Bowl birth.
The year prior, consecutive unacceptable losses to Syracuse and Connecticut relegated the Mountaineers to the Champs Sports Bowl.
In 2009, two Big East losses sent them to the Gator Bowl.
See a trend there? It is a trend that hardly worked in the Big East and one that definitely must stop if WVU plans to take over the Big 12.
No more mental lapses, no more flat starts.
Consistency is the name of the game.
Otherwise, the Mountaineers stand no chance of conquering their new conference.