As the calendar turns to August, college football enthusiasts are finally able to rejoice. The anticipation of the new football season has been building for months, but fans and gamblers alike are now within a month of watching their favorite college team.
In West Virginia, that team is undoubtedly the WVU Mountaineers.
The gold and blue head into 2019 with a lot of changes to its roster. Following eight years of Dana Holgorsen, coach Neal Brown takes over after spending his last four years at Troy.
WVU will have a fresh face at the quarterback position, too. With Will Grier on to the NFL, a trio of players are battling for the starting job.
As the team prepares to enter its fall camp this week, plenty of decisions will have to be made regarding the roster. Despite a lot of important losses, Brown has a talented roster that will contend with the rest of the Big 12 Conference.
After going 6-3 in the Big 12 a year ago, the Mountaineers would be fortunate to match that record again in 2019. The conference is one of the best in the nation, with a couple of teams having playoff potential.
Both Oklahoma and Texas come into the season ranked in the preseason top 10.
Regardless of the Mountaineers outlook, the West Virginia sports betting market should be quite active all football season. This will especially be the case if an online sportsbook launches in the Mountain State by the end of the month as rumored.
Let’s breakdown the entire Big 12 and examine how WVU will fare against the rest of the conference this season.
Big 12 Conference favorites
Oklahoma and Texas have been powerhouses in the Big 12 for decades. Though there have been years where both programs have fallen short of expectations, both have been extremely relevant in the national picture of late.
The Oklahoma Sooners have been one of the best and most consistent teams for a while now. Last year, OU went 12-2 overall on its way to its second-consecutive CFB Playoff. En route, it won its fourth-straight Big 12 title.
Besides dominating as a team, Oklahoma has incredibly won the last two Heisman Trophies as well. Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray each brought home the hardware in their respective last seasons with the team.
The craziest part of it is that the Sooners have a chance to win another Heisman with Alabama-transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts. The dynamic playmaker only left Tuscaloosa after being benched in favor of rising star Tua Tagovailoa.
Hurts will lead another scary offensive attack for coach Lincoln Riley in 2019. The coach led his offense in scoring more than 59 points per game a season ago.
A large part of that unit will be returning in the OU backfield. Running backs Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon each return to Norman to play another year. They combined for more than 2,000 yards on the ground and 20 touchdowns last year.
Even though Oklahoma lost four starters from its offensive line, Hurts should have enough help that it won’t matter.
CeeDee Lamb comes back as the top receiving threat. The junior leads an exciting group of receivers who will stretch the field vertically every single series.
Lamb is coming off a 2018 campaign where he bested first-round selection Marquise Brown in average yards per catch (17.8) and touchdowns (11).
Oklahoma’s defense could definitely use some help, but with this much firepower on offense, they only really need to perform in a couple of games this year. Oklahoma is a heavy favorite to win the conference again, and it makes sense why.
DraftKings Sportsbook New Jersey odds to win Big 12: -167
The only other Big 12 opponent that poses a real threat to Oklahoma is its long-time rival in Austin. The Texas Longhorns are coming off a promising 2018 that saw head coach Tom Herman’s second year go according to plan.
The Longhorns finished the season 10-4, including an amazing Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia.
Quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads Texas following a year where he racked up 41 total touchdowns. He’s proven in his short time that he can be one of the most impactful college football players in the country.
He’ll lead an offense that helped the Longhorns average more than 41 points a game last season.
Receivers Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay return to school to improve upon a year in which they combined for more than 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns. Both will have plenty of opportunity with Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s 86 receptions out of the picture.
Similar to Oklahoma, Texas will have its share of problems on the defensive side of the ball. The Longhorns bring back only two starters from 2018.
Sophomore defensive back Caden Sterns will lead the group and look to continue his great play from last season. He led the team with four interceptions and was fourth in pass deflections.
Expectations are sky-high at Texas this year and for a good reason. Unfortunately, the Longhorns will have to defeat OU in early October to reach their goals.
DraftKings NJ odds to win Big 12: +450
WVU’s Big 12 schedule
Sept. 21 – at Kansas
The schedule makers were very kind when they opened up WVU’s conference schedule with a trip to Kansas. The Jayhawks only won three total games last year, including a dismal 1-8 in the Big 12.
Depending on which projections you look at, things could potentially get even worse for Kansas this year.
There aren’t too many must-win games on the Mountaineer’s schedule, but their conference opener is one of them.
Oct. 5 – Texas
After a week off following the KU game, WVU will return to Morgantown and face one of its most difficult opponents all year. Texas will come into the game as a sizable favorite, but maybe the Mountaineers can use this to their advantage.
Beyond the Longhorns, most teams on WVU’s schedule won’t be circling their game. It’s possible that the Mountaineers could sneak up on some people.
Whoever starts at quarterback will have to be spectacular to have a chance, but in the Big 12 where points are scored at will, WVU could catch Texas napping.
Oct. 12 – Iowa State
Unfortunately for the home fans in WV, they will have to witness another tough game against Iowa State the following week.
The Cyclones are led by quarterback Brock Purdy, who is coming off a solid freshman year. He helped the Cyclones go 6-3 in the Big 12 a season ago.
There are some conference games WVU might be able to steal this year, but Iowa State will not be one of them.
Oct. 19 – at Oklahoma
The October matchup on the road in Oklahoma will be the Mountaineers toughest test all year. Coach Brown can have his guys prepared to the fullest extent, and this game still might not be close.
One factor that could lead to an exciting game is the fact that OU plays Texas the week prior. If the Sooners are coming off a big win over its rival, WVU could maybe jump on Oklahoma early and make it a competitive game.
Oct. 31 – at Baylor
On Halloween, WVU will travel to Waco, Texas to take on the Baylor Bears. Unlike the beginning part of the Mountaineers’ Big 12 schedule, there are several winnable games on the back end.
The game with Baylor is one of them.
Signal-caller Charlie Brewer threw for more than 3,000 yards as a sophomore last year and is looking to build on the Bears’ four conference wins in 2018.
It will be a tough atmosphere for WVU to escape with a win, but this is one it can take.
Nov. 9 – Texas Tech
The home fans in Morgantown will get another chance to witness a victory in WVU’s next game against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders went 5-7 overall last year but put up a great fight against the Mountaineers last year.
Quarterback Alan Bowman will have four returning offensive linemen in front of him, so a big year could be in store.
This game’s winner might be the first team to score 80 points. However, there’s a good chance that team is WVU.
Nov. 16 – at Kansas State
The road game at Kansas State will be another game coach Brown will tell you he thinks his guys can win. The Wildcats went 3-6 in conference last year and didn’t have much higher expectations than that for this season either.
Chris Klieman could end up being an excellent hire for KSU, but he’ll most likely struggle in his first year.
WVU will be able to score too many points and will leave Kansas State with another Big 12 road win.
Nov. 23 – Oklahoma State
The home game against the OSU Cowboys won’t be an easy task, either. They will come to WV with several capable players on the offensive side of the ball.
Quarterback Spencer Sanders and wideout Tylan Wallace could form a dangerous duo that scores all year long.
WVU just won’t have enough juice on offense to keep up in this one.
Nov. 29 – at TCU
WVU’s Big 12 finale will be an away date with TCU. Jalen Reagor, the Horned Frogs’ top receiver, totaled 72 grabs for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He’s set to have an even bigger 2019.
Although WVU can win this game, TCU will be too strong at home in its final regular-season game.
Betting on WVU at WV sportsbooks
WV sportsbooks will have plenty of betting action on college football from now through the season. With WVU having some relatively favorable odds, some bettors in the state might try to take advantage of a nice payout.
Here are the odds according to DraftKings for WVU and the Big 12 Conference in 2019:
Odds to win Big 12
- Oklahoma -167
- Texas +450
- Iowa State +800
- Baylor +1400
- Oklahoma State +1400
- TCU +1600
- Texas Tech +2000
- West Virginia +2500
- Kansas State +4000
- Kansas +10000
WVU regular-season win total
- Over 5 (-110)
- Under 5 (-110)