The WVU college football season is right around the corner, and plenty of West Virginians can’t wait. With a new sports betting environment, many in the state may be taking a look at the Mountaineers this season with some money on the line.
For the 2019/2020 season Neal Brown replaces Dana Holgorsen as WVU head coach, who headed to Houston after the 2018-19 season. Brown led Troy to a 35-16 record during his four seasons with the Trojans.
Additionally, the Mountaineers will soon announce their new starting quarterback. Changes in two key spots could spell a difficult road ahead.
With the Mountaineers set to kick off the season on Aug. 31 against James Madison, here are five predictions for the upcoming college football season.
1. WVU will defy expectations
In the Big 12 media poll in July, WVU was ranked eighth out of 10 teams. That seems too low and expect the Mountaineers to finish in the top half of the conference.
2019 Big 12 Football Media Preseason Poll
- Iowa State
- Oklahoma State
- Texas Tech
- West Virginia
- Kansas State
In 2018, the Mountaineers finished the season 8-4 overall with a 6-3 conference record.
WVU certainly have some holes to fill – including quarterback Will Grier, who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers. The Mountaineers will also be looking to fill spots at:
- Wide receiver
- Defensive line
However, a strong core returns, especially along the offensive line. The schedule is favorable in some key matchups. That includes playing at home against:
- Texas (Oct. 5)
- Iowa State (Oct. 12)
- Baylor (Oct. 31)
- Oklahoma State (Nov. 23)
WVU went 2-2 in those games last season. But after finishing with a 5-1 home record, the team has a chance to at least equal those results. Having home-field advantage could be pivotal.
Tough road games include Oklahoma (Oct. 19) and TCU (Nov. 29). However, the Mountaineers played close with OU in 2018, losing 59-56, and blew out TCU 47-10.
The Sooners and Longhorns may be receiving all the hype, but the pollsters’ views on WVU seem a bit low. Look for a similar season to 2018 – a middle of the pack finish and shot at fourth or higher.
2. The O-Line Will Hold
The offense may lack some of the experience from last year, but the offensive line should be more than okay. The unit lost left tackle Yodny Cajuste to the New England Patriots, but the remaining big guys return.
That includes two 6-6 guards (Josh Sills and Isaiah Hardy) who provide plenty of size inside. Tackle Colton McKivitz (6-5, 306 pounds) also returns to anchor a group that helped Grier pass for 3,864 yards and 37 TDs last season.
That collection of size should be good news for the Mountaineers’ new quarterback. While an official starter hasn’t been named, Jack Allison, a Miami transfer is expected to get the nod. A big and experienced line could offer some needed stability.
Allison had his first career start for the team in the Camping World Bowl with mixed results. He completed 17 of 35 passes for 277 yards. That included one interception and no TDs.
The Mountaineers did produce nice numbers on the ground in that game with 146 yards. Look for the line to bolster this offense and provide time for Allison to grow into the role.
3. A big win cometh
A couple of big wins in 2018 could propel the Mountaineers to even bigger heights in 2019.
For instance, last season the Mountaineers collected a 42-41 win over the ninth-ranked Longhorns. WVU went on to finish 20th in the country.
The team also scored some big wins over Baylor (58-14) and TCU (47-10). Back-to-back close losses to Oklahoma State (45-41) and Oklahoma (59-56) proved tough late-season finishes.
If the Mountaineers could have even split those two matchups, it could have been a much better season.
WVU showed some moxie in the Longhorns victory, and there’s a good chance they find another big win this season – maybe more.
4. Bet on blue against the spread
Those bettors looking for an edge may consider the blue and gold. Last season, the Mountaineers finished 6-4-2 against the spread according to VegasInsider.com.
Season-ending losses to OSU, OU, and Syracuse brought a big downward trend to that record, however. Against less-talented teams, the Mountaineers regularly crushed the spread.
The Mountaineers might provide some excellent value against lower-wrung teams, especially if an underdog. Take a look at them against:
WVU easily topped the spread in those matchups last season.
A season-opening non-conference game against an FCS James Madison team (Aug. 31) also may offer some value.
5. Over and over again
Over/under bettors may also have a friend in the WVU Mountaineers. Of its 12 games in 2018, seven hit the over for point total. That may not seem like a huge advantage, but those small edges are what makes money for bettors.
The team primarily found over/under success against inferior opponents such as:
- Youngstown State
- Texas Tech
Look for plenty of high-scoring games again with over possibilities against those latter three. Youngstown State isn’t on the schedule in 2019, but James Madison is also another over consideration.
Will sports betting in WV return before college football?
No official timeline for the release of an online betting app in West Virginia has been revealed. Comments from the West Virginia Lottery indicate football season as the target, though.
No doubt plenty of bettors are already planning to put some dollars on some Mountaineer games. While mobile betting seems in standstill mode, there are some live betting options available at:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
WV bettors are eagerly awaiting the return of online betting, though.
The West Virginia Lottery has also already approved three online sports betting apps:
While that news is exciting on the surface, it doesn’t seem as if WV is any closer to launching an online app.
Bettors on or near the Pennsylvania border also have the option of a quick trip across the border to bet in the Keystone State and some are already making plans.
If a mobile offering like DraftKings does enter the market, football season could produce record betting totals in the state. WVU football should be a big chunk of that.