This Saturday marks exactly one week before the WVU football team takes the field for the first time in 2021. The season gets started on Sept. 4, with a 3:30 p.m. EST matchup on the road at Maryland.
After a very difficult offseason a year ago that involved teams forced to deal with crazy health protocols, this spring was much more normal. Teams were able to hold regular workouts, as well as spring games as usual.
That should help every side entering the opening few weeks of the new campaign.
This is a good sign for the Mountaineers, as they looked prepared to begin the season a year ago. They won three of their first four games, and the only defeat came on the road against a ranked Oklahoma State.
Head coach Neal Brown’s squad lost some pieces after last season, but the majority of the faces remain the same.
While WVU isn’t the favorite at West Virginia sportsbooks to take down the Big 12 in perhaps its final year, it should contend through November.
WVU Football Odds At WV Sportsbooks
Despite all the potential movement happening in the college football landscape, the Big 12 Conference will look the same for at least this season.
According to DraftKings WV Sportsbook, the Mountaineers own the sixth-best odds to win the conference crown. They’re available at +2800 to win the Big 12.
The online sportsbook shows the following odds for the teams ahead of WVU:
- Oklahoma -182
- Iowa State +300
- Texas +1000
- TCU +1400
- Oklahoma State +1600
As always, the conference includes several talented teams with lots of future NFL players. The Sooners are among the favorites in the national picture as well, as they have odds of +800 to win the title.
Iowa State is also up among the teams with the best odds to take home the National Championship. It is available with odds of +4000, tied for the sixth-best odds in the country.
Outside of these two matchups, the Mountaineers should have a quality chance to earn a victory in every other game.
Two main reasons for optimism are the WVU defense and its returning leaders on offense.
The defense was incredible in 2020 and was a major part of the success the team had. It held opponents in check basically the entire year, except for the Iowa State game.
The Mountaineers’ defense was so good that it led the conference in total yards per game by a significant margin. It was almost 50 yards better than the second-place Cyclones.
WVU surrendered around just 290 yards per contest. The unit led the Big 12 in points allowed per game, too, with only 20.5.
A key contributor on that side of the ball is senior lineman Dante Stills. He was a consistent problem for offenses all season, and his brother Darius was recognized with the Defensive Lineman of the Year award within the conference.
If Stills can build upon his All-Big 12 honorable mention from last year, then the defense should look solid again.
WVU Football 2021 Overview
Stills won’t be alone on that defensive front, either. Sophomore Akheem Mesidor led the Mountaineers in sacks last season and received recognition as second-team all-conference.
The WVU back end is also secured. Senior free safety Alonzo Addae recorded the most solo tackles a year ago with 38. He tied for the team lead in interceptions, while finishing tied for second with pass deflections.
Addae found a spot on the Big 12’s second team, too.
On the offensive side of things, the Mountaineers should look familiar in several areas.
Two skilled players in running back Leddie Brown and wideout Winston Wright Jr. will look to get back on the all-conference team.
Brown proved to be a workhorse and would have broken the 1,000-yard threshold on the ground if games weren’t canceled. WVU never actually faced OU, because their meeting was postponed twice.
If you count the statistics from the Liberty Bowl, Brown eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in fewer than 200 carries overall. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry and should continue to see plenty of touches this season.
Wright Jr. was the most utilized wide receiver on the roster by far. He totaled 20 more grabs than the second-closest Mountaineer, while exceeding 550 receiving yards in 10 games.
The junior is undersized but takes advantage of defenders through his agility and footwork. WVU will likely keep Wright Jr. lined up inside in the slot, where he should act as an underneath target for quarterback Jarret Doege early and often.
Doege is looking to build on a season in which he threw for over 2,500 yards on nearly 64% passing.
Featuring a great running attack certainly helped the young QB; however, he held his own for the most part. He recorded 14 touchdowns against just four interceptions in 2020.
Additional WVU Football Odds
If Doege shows growth early in the season, then the Mountaineers can make some noise in the conference this year.
For those feeling extra confident, BetMGM Sportsbook WV is offering them at +30000 to win the title. There are several other more realistic markets to look at as well.
The online sportsbook lists WVU’s win total for the season at 6.5. Bettors can take the over at -120, compared to the under with odds of +100.
There is even an option for the Mountaineers to qualify for the Big 12 Championship. DraftKings has them at +1000 to reach the conference final.
At FanDuel WV, both Brown and Doege are available in the Heisman category. Naturally, both are long shots, with Brown up at +10000 and Doege with odds of +15000.
The season gets underway in just over a week when the Mountaineers travel to College Park. The schedule for the regular season is as follows:
- Sept. 4 – at Maryland
- Sept. 11 – vs. Long Island University
- Sept. 18 – vs. Virginia Tech
- Sept. 25 – at No. 2 Oklahoma
- Oct. 2 – vs. Texas Tech
- Oct. 9 – at Baylor
- Oct. 23 – at TCU
- Oct. 30 – vs. No. 7 Iowa State
- Nov. 6 – vs. Oklahoma State
- Nov. 13 – at Kansas State
- Nov. 20 – vs. No. 21 Texas
- Nov. 27 – at Kansas