Football season is officially back!
The WVU Mountaineers are set to begin their 2020 campaign this Saturday at home against Eastern Kentucky.
Thankfully, WVU football is part of the Big 12 Conference, which decided to play fall sports this year.
Several others within the Power 5, including the Pac 12 and Big Ten, chose to postpone football until later in the school year.
Although it’s unclear what this means for this season overall, the show must go on.
Along with the Big 12, the SEC and ACC conferences are also playing during the normal fall season.
This is huge news for both retail sportsbooks and the online sports betting apps available in the state. College football wagering tends to drive a lot of the action throughout the year.
There is plenty of optimism around the Mountaineers this season, too. Head coach Neal Brown enters his second year looking to get WVU back to its consistent winning ways.
Even though 2019 wasn’t a memorable one for most, the team showed improvement down the stretch. In a season where WVU won just five games in total, it went 2-1 in the final three.
Both victories came on the road, with the four-point win over No. 24 Kansas State being the most noteworthy.
As bettors prepare for the upcoming season, WV sportsbooks have everyone covered. In fact, the state just expanded its online offerings.
Besides the three mobile platforms that have been in the market, two new mobile apps are now available. William Hill Sportsbook and the betly app are now live and accepting wagers for the football season.
Mountaineers football preview
Coach Brown and his squad have much higher expectations heading into this season. After a rocky start last year, WVU football fought hard in the second half of the year.
Beyond winning a few of the final games, they had a couple of other close losses to ranked opponents.
WVU might not have what it takes to win the Big 12 just yet; however, it can certainly compete in 2020.
Part of what made the Mountaineers more successful in the month of November was the switch to Jarret Doege at quarterback.
The junior from Lubbock, Texas, started the final three games of the year and provided a spark that was missing from the offense.
He completed over 65% of his passes, totaling more than 800 yards and seven touchdowns during his short stint as signal-caller.
Doege’s play last year and this summer were enough to give coach Brown the confidence to stick with him going forward.
The team announced its overall depth chart prior to its opening game against EKU this weekend.
Austin Kendall, who started most of the Mountaineers’ games a season ago, will back up Doege.
The quarterback will have lots of familiar faces around him in the backfield. Both Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield return to lead the WVU rushing attack that didn’t perform well enough last year.
Brown was the team’s leading rusher, tallying 367 yards on 107 carries. The two backs added 22 receptions out of the backfield, as well.
WVU needs to develop its running game this season so that there isn’t as much pressure on the young quarterbacks. It fell behind too often in 2019 and was forced to try to throw its way back into games.
Big 12 Conference
Even though WVU lost meetings with Florida State and Maryland because of rescheduling and cancellations, it still has a very difficult schedule.
The Big 12 Conference is once again loaded. It features some elite teams at the top and a lot of depth throughout the league.
Oklahoma is the favorite to win the conference for the sixth consecutive time.
At the moment, DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Sooners at -125 to take the regular-season title again.
There is some quality competition in the conference, though.
Texas is at the top of the list of serious contenders. The Longhorns finished third a year ago with an 8-5 record.
The online sportsbook shows three other teams with better live betting odds in WV to win the conference over WVU. They are:
- Oklahoma State +650
- Iowa State +1000
- TCU +1600
WVU will get to see just how talented it is this year early on. After the opener, the Mountaineers travel to Oklahoma State, then face Baylor at home.
The Bears went 11-3 a year ago.
If the Mountaineers can get off to a quick start, it’s possible they could post a surprising record. Their schedule is relatively easy through October.
WVU’s shortened conference-only schedule becomes much more difficult in the following month. The team will close out the season with four of the conference’s better teams.
Three of them are ranked heading into the year. They are:
- No. 14 Texas
- No. 5 Oklahoma
- No. 23 Iowa State
While the Mountaineers are projected to finish somewhere in the middle of the Big 12, that’s significantly better than last year. They were underdogs at sportsbooks in nearly every conference game.
WVU may not win the title, but crazy things are bound to happen in a year with so much uncertainty.
WVU vs. Eastern Kentucky
The season opener shouldn’t be much of a test at all. This should allow coach Brown to rotate a lot of players in and acclimate everyone back to game speed.
Eastern Kentucky has actually started its season. Oddly enough, the Colonels played their first game of the new year against Marshall.
The Thundering Herd dismantled the FCS-subdivision team by a score of 59-0 last weekend.
As expected, WV sportsbooks have WVU as massive favorites.
The Colonels will look to be more efficient offensively. They managed just seven first downs and 166 total yards a week ago.
The WVU defense should expect to see plenty of action on the ground. Despite trailing all game, EKU ran nearly twice as much as it passed the ball last week.
Although they couldn’t get much going, the Colonels did have a few bright spots.
Sophomore Quentin Pringle gained 39 rushing yards on just six carries.
Even if EKU can have more success with the running game, it will need to be more of a threat vertically to keep the WVU defense honest.
The Mountaineers’ secondary should be able to press the receivers and start moving toward the line of scrimmage on most plays. This will limit EKU and condense the field for its playmakers.
The Colonels only had 80 yards passing against Marshall.
While this game shouldn’t be too exciting in terms of the outcome, WVU should be able to play well on both sides of the ball.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Mountaineers have almost a 99% chance to win the game. It’s quite possible that backups at every position get an opportunity to play on Saturday.
College football betting at WV Sportsbooks
Bettors in the Mountain State can wager on the upcoming season or Saturday’s game at any of the WV online sportsbooks. Outside of the newly added DraftKings, William Hill, and betly sportsbooks, WV sports betting customers can also choose:
Currently, DraftKings has the following odds for WVU’s first game of the year:
- WVU -40.5 (-110)
- EKU +40.5 (-110)
You’re also able to bet on WVU futures, still. The online sportsbook lists odds to win the Big 12 Conference:
Win Big 12
- WVU +2500