National Champions? Is 2011 The Mountaineers Next Best Chance at a Title Run?
For the past few years, West Virginia fans have been plagued with disappointment.
Each year begins with high hopes and expectations for the Mountaineers, as fans expect them to run the table against "weak" Big East opponents and claim a conference title, earning a much coveted BCS bid in the process. Unfortunately, this hasn't happened.
Since 2007, fans have been left feeling jaded.
In 2007, they had the best chance since 1988 at a nation title, only to blow it in a loss to Pittsburgh, thus relegating them to the Fiesta Bowl.
Hopes were dashed quickly in 2008, when the Mountaineers opened the season with back-to-back losses on the road to East Carolina and Colorado.
In 2009, the Mountaineers lost to Auburn after turning the ball over 6 times. They suffered a couple of conference losses as well, losing to South Florida and Cincinnati.
Even a loss to LSU in 2010 wasn't enough to damper the spirits of Mountaineer fans. That was until they lost back-to-back conference games to Syracuse and UConn. Probably best not to mention the Champs Sports Bowl.
The Mountaineer offense.
The past few seasons the offense has let the defense down. They turned the ball over 28 times and ranked 67th in total offense this last year, while the defense was ranked 2nd in the nation in points allowed.
With Dana Holgorsen taking over as offensive coordinator in 2011, expect to see a revamped offensive unit. Holgorsen comes into Morgantown with an impressive offensive resume, and he should get West Virginia's offense back on track, ideally into the top 10 or 20 in the nation.
If the Mountaineers can manage to compliment that with another excellent defense, they will be a dangerous opponent for any team.
The Mountaineers also have a favorable schedule in 2011.
Non-conference opponents include Marshall, Norfolk State, Maryland, LSU, and Bowling Green, all in Morgantown--with the exception of Maryland. They play their usual conference opponents in Cincinnati, Rutgers, Syracuse, and South Florida.
With a weaker schedule than last season, they should be able to post a record of at least 10-3.
They may not have it so easy in 2012.
With non-conference games against Florida State, Marshall, and Maryland, and a conference game against newly added TCU, the 2012 season will definitely have more quality opponents than in 2011.
This year is West Virginia's next best opportunity to win the Big East, claim its BCS bid, and hopefully get an invite to that elusive national title game.
Hopefully they take advantage of it.
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