West Virginia Football: Early Predictions for the Mountaneers' 2012 Season

Bob AllenCorrespondent IIFebruary 14, 2012

West Virginia Football: Early Predictions for the Mountaneers' 2012 Season

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    2012 has so far been busy and exciting for West Virginia University athletics. Starting with that record-breaking Orange Bowl performance, the highly anticipated (and hopefully any day now) official settlement to the Big East lawsuit, the move to the Big 12 and the much-anticipated (and hopefully any day now) official release of the elusive 2012 football schedule.

    Once everything is official and released it would seem all eyes will be on the 2012 football season and the debut of our Mountaineers in the Big 12. The next few slides will discuss a few predictions for the upcoming season.

Paul Millard Will Hold on to the Backup Quarterback Role, at Least at First

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    Paul Millard already has a year working under this offense and that may be the edge that keeps him as the backup to Geno Smith through the spring at least. New QB recruit Ford Childress will come in and be tough to compete against, but Childress should push Millard to perform at a higher level, making both quarterbacks better.

    However, don't expect Ford to be the third-string QB for too long though, as many fans expect by the time the regular season starts in September he will be the No. 2 guy to Geno.

Mountaineer Field Will Be at Full Capacity for Every Game

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    With new, exciting and highly competitive Big 12 opponents coming to Morgantown this season, it will be hard for me to believe that we would have any repeats of the Bowling Green fiasco of last season. Even non-conference opponents like Marshall and Maryland will fill the stands to the brim, as I attempt to explain below.

    Marshall is going to be sold out and packed because it is the first game of the season, and contrary to most Mountaineer fans' popular (and public) belief, this is generally an entertaining series for West Virginia residents that includes in-state bragging rights. The Mountaineers have gone undefeated in this series with an all-time record of 11-0.

    The Terrapins will visit Morgantown as one of the last remaining long-standing regional rivalries on the schedule. It also appears that this series will at least continue to the 2017 season. The Mountaineers hold a 25-21-2 edge over Maryland since the first game was played in 1919. The last three games at Milan Puskar Stadium have been sold out with over 60,000 attending each, so there is no reason to believe that this season will be any different.

    As far as the new Big 12 conference opponents go, WVU fans will be lined up to see teams like Oklahoma, Baylor and all the rest visit the Mountain State (depending on the official schedule); it will be fun to watch how well we play against a tougher conference schedule than they are usually accustomed to playing. Below I have listed the opponents for next season.

      JMU at FedEx Field
      Kansas St.
      Iowa St.
      Oklahoma St.
      Texas Tech

Geno Smith and Tavon Austin Will Both Finish in the Top Eight of Heisman Finalists

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    WVU has never had a Heisman Trophy winner, and I'm not predicting this to be the year that it will happen. However, they have two highly skilled position players here that should make a lot of Heisman noise; who knows—maybe one of them can actually bring home the coveted award for WVU.

    Geno Smith in his first season of Dana Holgorsen's offense managed to throw for a school-record 4,385 yards, 31 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 152.6 and finished in the top four nationally in passing yards, which also happened to include former Holgorsen-coached quarterbacks Case Keenum and Brandon Weeden. 

    Tavon Austin, who arguably could have been the Orange Bowl MVP, was able to lead the nation in all-purpose yards last season with 2,574. Austin averaged 198 all-purpose yards a game and finished second to only Stedman Bailey in receiving with 1,186 yards. Both Bailey and Austin broke the previous school record for receiving yards.

Marshall Will Go 0-12 Against the Mountaineers

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    This is not a bold prediction by any means; it is nothing that was perceived from some grand dream. Heck, it didn't even take two seconds to figure it out. WVU will more than likely, barring some horrific catastrophe, defeat the Thundering Herd in 2012 and go 12-0 in the series. Marshall hates West Virginia, and most Herd fans would sell their soul to beat the Mountaineers on the gridiron, but Marshall has failed to do so.

    2012 is the last currently scheduled meeting between the two teams. The current series played yearly since 2006 was put together by then-governor, now-senator Joe Manchin.

    The Thundering Herd have got to come up with a way to defeat West Virginia if they ever want to be respected by their archnemesis. They came close in 2010, but coming close and finishing the task are two completely different things. You can see this somewhat immediate reaction from one Marshall fan after the 2010 game. (Be aware there is some foul language in this video.)

More Mountaineer Fans Will Travel for Away Games This Year Than in the Past

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    Once the 2012 football schedule is officially released, Mountaineer fans will at long last be able to plan trips and time off from work..

    Mountaineer fans have always generally traveled well. This season should be no different; motivated fans will be ready to travel the distance in our first season in the Big 12. With away games in new locations against new opponents, our fans should be rather excited to travel and get acquainted with the new fanbases.

WVU Will Have Its First 1,000-Yard Rusher Since Noel Devine in 2009

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    Hard to believe that it has been two whole seasons since West Virginia had a 1,000-yard rusher. Noel Devine did it in 2009 with 1,465 yards. Since 1996, West Virginia has had a 1,000-yard rusher every season with the exception of the 2004, 2010 and 2011 seasons, with the last two years being the only instances in that time period that WVU has had back-to-back seasons without a 1,000-yard rushing performance.

    Devine was close in 2010, ending the season with 936 yards, and Dustin Garrison last year had with 742 as a true freshman.

    Garrison, now with a season under his belt, should be able to improve on last year's experience and take it to the next level.

There Will Be Plenty of Big Plays for Dougitydog to Make Videos From

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    If you enjoy highlight videos of WVU players and games then you know Dougitydog. His videos are the best videos you can find on Mountaineer football out there. I have included some of his recent videos in the links below.

    2012 Recruiting Class

    Stedman Bailey Highlights

    2012 Discover Orange Bowl

    What are some of your predictions for WVU in the 2012 season?

    Come on Nostradamus!

    Preach it brother!

    Leave a comment. Let's hear all of those predictions. Bold, not so bold, we don't care—just get it out there...