Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Without Smith, Austin and Bailey, many college football fans around the country will struggle to name a single player on the WVU roster—so it's easy to understand why so little is expected of the Mountaineers in 2013.
Most early preseason Big 12 rankings have WVU slotted among the bottom three teams in the league. Here are a few examples from ESPN, Scout and Bleacher Report.
Of course, there's the whole "chip on their shoulder" mentality that could help this group.
It worked for the WVU baseball team, which was unanimously picked to finish last in the Big 12 in 2013, and turned that into a third-place finish and nearly a berth in the conference title game (via Big12Sports.com).
What will help even more is the absence of pressure. The 2012 WVU football team was expected to not only hold its own in the Big 12, but to even compete for the conference title—if not the national title.
Early in the year, it looked like the Mountaineers would do just that. In the end, though, that pressure proved to be too much, as they ended up falling far short of those goals.
Now, without that outside pressure, the 2013 Mounties should be better equipped to play within themselves and with the intention of surprising those outsiders.
Finally, with expectations this low, it will only take a couple of key wins for this group to be considered overachieving.