West Virginia Football: Can Anyone Stop Geno Smith and Tavon Austin?
Few teams have demonstrated the level of explosiveness on offense that the Mountaineers have this season, but it's still extremely early.
The Big 12 slate is all that's left for the Mountaineers this season, but they looked somewhat vulnerable Saturday against a mediocre Maryland team.
With talk of a Big 12 title and Heisman Trophy heating up in Morgantown, let's take a look at the rest of West Virginia's schedule and see which opponents might be capable of slowing it down and keeping Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey in check.
West Virginia, led by its explosive passing game, is third in the nation in total offense. Baylor is not far behind at No. 8.
Sounds promising for the Bears, no? Except for the fact that they are also 114th in the nation in defense.
That's somewhere down near the bottom of the rankings between Miami of Ohio and New Mexico State.
So the Bears should no problem for Austin and teammates in their next matchup.
Prediction: West Virginia, 42-27
At this point in the season, the Mountaineers will face their first real test.
While Dana Holgorsen's squad has put up big numbers, the truth behind those stats remains: WVU has yet to face a decent opponent.
Baylor will test the West Virginia defense. But Texas, with its stout defense, will be the biggest test to date for the Mountaineers.
As of Week 4, the Longhorns have allowed only 180 passing yards per game, while WVU has been putting up 386 yards through the air.
Something is going to break, and I think it's going to be the 'Horns. The Texas offense won't be able to hang with the Mountaineers.
Prediction: West Virginia, 31-24
In spite of their 3-0 start and average of more than 50 points per game, Texas Tech will be in no shape to beat the Mountaineers when they travel to Lubbock.
Their meeting is smack in the middle of a four-game stretch that features ranked opponents for the Red Raiders, and they will be coming off a meeting with Oklahoma.
While it could be said that the Red Raiders have the offense to hang with West Virginia, in the end, WVU has better athletes and will avoid stubbing their toes against Texas Tech.
Prediction: West Virginia, 34-21
Kansas State will pose a unique challenge for the Mountaineers.
The K-State defense is sound, and the Wildcats play a smash-mouth style of football that WVU may not be able to handle.
Maryland's defense gave WVU problems at times, and Kansas State is far more talented.
Because the game is a home contest for WVU, the Mountaineers will have the slight edge.
Prediction: West Virginia, 38-28
This will be the first meeting of these teams as members of the Big 12. It's going to be a battle.
TCU's defense has been up to its usual standards, allowing fewer than 165 yards through the air per contest. The Horned Frogs have plenty of talented defenders to match up with West Virginia's stars on offense.
Conversely, TCU quarterback Casey Pachall continues to be the model of efficiency, leading the nation in that statistic through Week 4.
This is going to be a great game. If anybody has a shot at slowing down the Mountaineers, it's TCU.
Prediction: West Virginia, 31-24
This is an intriguing matchup for the Mountaineers.
Oklahoma State has been up and down this season, but still has playmakers on both sides of the ball to make things interesting.
Throw in Dana Holgorsen's ties to Oklahoma State, and there are plenty of storylines to follow.
Neither defense is overly impressive, and this one is on the road for WVU.
Expect a high-scoring contest with the Mountaineers coming out on top.
Prediction: West Virginia, 42-38
It seems to happen on an annual basis.
The Sooners are ranked near the top of the college football rankings, only to find a way to falter in Big 12 play.
Conventional wisdom would dictate that the Sooners will have little to no trouble putting away the upstart Mountaineers.
However, Oklahoma has issues on defense that could lead to major problems against teams such as WVU.
Prediction: West Virginia, 31-30
After a brutal middle-of-the-season schedule, the Mountaineers get to face a solid, if not fantastic Cyclones team.
Led by a solid group of linebackers, the Cyclone defense has been better than expected.
The Cyclones were giant-killers last season, knocking off Oklahoma State late in the year, and they could have a shot in this one, especially if this defense continues to improve and perform at a high level.
Barring injury, Geno Smith and the offense should be playing at an extremely high level by this point, and ISU should have a difficult time keeping up.
Prediction: West Virginia, 35-20
Kansas, in spite of the arrival of Charlie Weis, is awful.
The Jayhawks already have lost to Rice, and other than blocking, tackling, passing and catching, they are great.
This is going to be a great way to finish the season for the Mountaineer offense, as it will have a field day against a weak Kansas secondary.
There's a slim chance of the Jayhawks pulling an upset in this one.
Prediction: West Virginia, 57-24