As signs point to the start of the season kicking off as planned, it looks like the Mountaineers will see Florida State week one. Likely being on national TV, this could be the spring board the Mountaineers need.
Shaping The Season
Florida State has been a disaster the last few seasons under Willie Taggart. Now that Mike Norvell has taken over, the Seminoles will look very different in a hurry. Norvell was one of the most sought after coaches after turning Memphis into an AAC power. Now he is making the jump to the P5.
When comparing the two teams, there is no way around it, Florida State on paper is flat out better. Their average recruiting class from 2016-2018 is sixth in the country. West Virginia falls around 40th. However, that doesn’t mean WVU doesn’t stand a chance, far from it.
While Florida State may have better athletes, Taggart ran that team and locker room into the ground before being dismissed. Norvell is a vastly better coach but he has to reshape this team with a limited offseason. While I expect improvement, week one likely isn’t the start of any championship run for FSU.
West Virginia has shown the ability to hang with teams like Texas and knocked off Kansas State last season. They can play with talented teams. Florida State will be vulnerable week one and it could propel WVU into a strong season.
FSU Spring Board
West Virginia opens with Florida State at a neutral site and then has Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU, Texas, and Kansas to start the year. There isn’t one team outside of Texas on this list that you can chalk up to a guaranteed loss. While it is a long shot and West Virginia would need to take a big step forward, the Mountaineers could be 7-1 headed into November. They also have four of these eight games at home. (FSU is neutral site)
The last four games include Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State. That is where even the most optimistic can admit that is a tough stretch and going 2-2 there would be impressive. But this isn’t an article to claim West Virginia is going to win the Big 12 in 2020, and they shouldn’t.
In year two of Neal Brown, West Virginia should just look to take a step forward. Rebuilding a program doesn’t happen overnight. However, if West Virginia can knock off FSU on national TV and build momentum going into their conference schedule, they could be hot before entering November.
With an O/U win total set at six, West Virginia could break out with of the bottom half of the big 12 with a strong start. Stumbling out the gate against Florida State could just create a tailspin and season that never really hits it’s stride.