We'll start a new series today projecting the best and worst-case scenarios for each team in the Big 12. Let's get started with West Virginia.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- After a 7-6 debut in the Big 12 with one of the most hyped teams in school history, the West Virginia faithful had to feel a little nervous about its future in the league. The Big 12's depth makes cracking a bowl game a difficult task for any team, but especially one that lost the majority of its offensive production and returned the Big 12's worst defense.
After a 1-1 start with a win over William & Mary and a loss at Oklahoma, those nerves weren't exactly settled, but it didn't take long for Clint Trickett to settle in back in Morgantown. Andrew Buie got rolling after the Oklahoma loss and Dustin Garrison and Dreamius Smith helped WVU showcase one of the Big 12's best running back trios. They combined for 2,121 yards and Trickett's 3,807 yards through the air renewed Dana Holgorsen's reputation as an offensive savant.
West Virginia rolled over Maryland and after suffering a loss to Oklahoma State in the final minute to fall to 3-2, 2013 took on a decidedly different feel. Forget a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season. West Virginia edged Baylor once again in an offensive shootout before avenging blowout losses in 2012 to the two teams most responsible for West Virginia's freefall from poll voters' collective consciousness: Kansas State and Texas Tech.
A narrow loss on the road to TCU was WVU's only hiccup, but a home victory over a top 15 Texas team capped a fun season in Morgantown that changed a lot of minds and made the future in the Big 12 look a whole lot brighter. A win over Iowa State in the season finale sent WVU dancing on the way to San Antonio and an Alamo Bowl bid.
FINAL RECORD: 9-3
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- I won't make any predictions here. I'll leave that duty up to the man known only by a title and a letter.
How did West Virginia's 2013 season go?
That three-touchdown beating at Oklahoma in Week 2 was only the beginning. West Virginia saw flashes of Stefon Diggs in last season's win over Maryland, but his 200-yard receiving game is too much this time around. Injuries to the defense officially end any chance West Virginia had of being a competent unit, and the Mountaineers suffer a lopsided home loss to Oklahoma State.
Clint Trickett wins the quarterback job in preseason camp, but a run of turnovers in the second half of a come-from-ahead loss to Baylor forces Dana Holgorsen to turn to young gun Ford Childress two weeks later against Texas Tech. That begins a game of musical chairs the rest of the season, and Paul Millard gets in the mix, too. It's never settled, and a young offensive line makes the running back trio of Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and Dreamius Smith look pedestrian.
Consecutive road losses at Kansas State and TCU equal last year's low-light: A five-game losing streak. Texas uses a powerful running game in Morgantown a week later to make it six.
Just like last year, WVU finds Kansas and Iowa State left on its schedule to close the season. A win at KU snaps the streak, but a defeated Mountaineers' team turns in a lackluster effort in the finale and drops a season-ending indignity at home to Iowa State, suffering the worst season since a 3-8 campaign back in 2001, Rich Rodriguez's first season at WVU. West Virginia would have lost nine games for the first time since 1978, too.
FINAL RECORD: 3-9