I do not pretend to be unbiased in my affection for WVU athletics. However my passion for them does not make me believe this team could win the super bowl. It makes me study and weigh our chances for a conference title each year. This year WVU has been picked second in the Big East behind Pittsburgh. While this would normally make me sick due to the fact it that they are our oldest rivals it disgusts me even more when i feel they are being favored for no apparent reason. I will review these two teams and you can decide which team should be favored in the early season.
Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh finished with a 10-3 record and a bowl win over UNC. They did lose the Backyard Brawl on a last second field goal by WVU. Their star player is sophmore RB Dion Lewis. He ran for 17 TDs and 1,800 yds last season as a true freshmen and won not only the Big east rookie of the year but the Big East Offensive player of the year. Pitt Returns 11 starters on offense and defense combined, while breaking in a new QB this year. They do retrun an electrifying DE Greag Romeus who was the co Defensive player of the year in the Big East last season. Jonathan baldwin is a returning WR with great speed and is a big play threat every down. He is complimented with another big play threat in Mike Shannahan and speedy slot receiver Greg Cross. The Offense should be an explosive one and will give any team in the Big east problems, as long as the very green offensive line can hold and the QB play does not get in the way of these spectacular athletes. The defense could be very good the 6 returning starters are spread out through the D-line,Linebacker,and Defesive backs but if the new starters dont fill their holes it will be a feeding frenzy for opposing offenses.
West Virginia- WVU finished with a 9-4 record last year including a disappointing loss to FSU in former HC Bobby Bowdens last game. WVU returns 17 starters on offense and defense combined (tied for first in Big East). WVU star is also a RB SR Noel Devine. Noel devine rushed for just under 1,500 yds last season with 13 rushing TDs. WVU also will be breaking in a new QB in Eugene smith. Smith played some significant minutes for wvu in multiple games last year including playing the majority of the Marshall game and throwing 15-21 for 147yds and 1 TD. The offenive line should be in great shape with 4 of the starting 5 returning. The defense could be one of the best in the nation with 9 returning starters. The defensive line boasts 4 playmakers in RS SR DT/DE Scooter Berry, SR NT Chris Neild, JR DE Juillian miller, and 5* JUCO transfer Bruce Irvin. The Linebacker to watch is J.T. Thomas who had 76 tackles last season. The Defensive secondary returns 4 of its 5 starters. With playmaking safety Robert Sands who led the team with 5 Ints last season leading the way.
WVU and Pitt have played 102 time in the Backyard Brawl. To these two teams it is the biggest rivalry we know. Pitt deals with inexperience accross the board, but does boast some amazing athletes. WVU deals with lack of playmakers in the receiving game but has the experience and playmakers on defense to compensate.
My feel is WVU is the better team this year all around. Pitt seems to be in the same situation as WVU was in in 08 where they had the superstars but not the role players. You can make your own choice i have made mine though.