HunterSportsPicks is back and ready for another big college football season. In each of the past three years I have finished in the top eight handicappers in the world in college football. I consider this sport one of my specialties. During the last three years, my plays are 157-116 (57.14% winners). If you aren’t already a member of my free sports picks newsletter, join in today. I’ll be sending out free premium plays (including exclusive season win total plays) before the start of the season to newsletter subscribers. Simply enter your email in the upper right hand side of this page and you’ll be ready to go.
Let’s continue with our college football season previews. Next up is the West Virginia Mountaineers.
2012 College Football Previews: West Virginia
Head Coach: Dana Holgorsen
West Virginia Mountaineers Gambling Odds from JustBet to Win BCS Championship: +3,000
West Virginia Mountaineers Gambling Odds from JustBet to win Big 12 Conference: +600
No team in the nation makes a bigger move geographically than the West Virginia Mountaineers do this season. West Virginia showed in their 70-33 pounding of Clemson in the Orange Bowl that they are a force to be reckoned with. Now, they must face top notch teams on a weekly basis. Can they handle the step up in class?
Geno Smith and Dana Holgorsen are the perfect match. Smith is the type of quarterback who fits perfectly into the wide open offense that Holgorsen has the Mountaineers running right now. Smith put up 4,385 yards passing and completed 65.8% of his passes in 2011. He was the second player in Big East history to top 4,000 passing yards in a season. In the past, Holgorsen’s quarterbacks have seen an increase in production in year two in the system. It could be an awesome year for Smith.
Smith has two terrific receivers in Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. Bailey ended up being the team’s deep threat in 2011, with Austin serving as the midrange target. Austin had 101 catches for 1,186 yards last year. Bailey had 72 catches and 1,279 yards receiving. You could make a good argument that this may be the best one-two combination at wide receiver in the nation. They should be piling up the yards in a Big 12 conference that lacks strong secondaries.
The running back position is more wide open. Shawne Alston and Dustin Garrison are expected to share duties in the backfield. Garrison is more capable of busting a long run, but Alston is a consistent power rusher. The offensive line has struggled against great defensive fronts. This line is better at pass blocking than run blocking.
The Big 12 is known for strong offenses and below average defenses, so it seems West Virginia will fit in quite well. The Mountaineers defense took a big step backward last year, and they might slip a little more in 2012. The defensive front loses Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller from a group that already struggled to get into the backfield. There isn’t much depth along the line, and that could be a problem in the powerful Big 12.
The linebackers are all solid, but none of them are spectacular. Don’t expect to see many huge plays from this group, but they also won’t hurt the team badly. The secondary has the potential to be better, but there are warning signs there as well. Pat Miller is a great cover corner, but he broke a foot in March and might not be 100 percent this year. Darwin Cook is a star at the safety spot, and he is a big hitter at the back of the defense.
2012 West Virginia Football Predictions: 10-3
West Virginia will likely have to win quite a few shootouts this year, but I think this offense is definitely capable of scoring a ton of points. It’s hard to imagine any of the Big 12 defenses having much success shutting this offense down. Geno Smith may be a good value play in the Heisman Trophy race this year. The Mountaineers aren’t my pick in the Big 12 Conference, but at +600 they are a solid value based on the way they can score points. In the end, the brutal November schedule will probably keep this team from being a top five team. Don’t be surprised if they finish in the top 10 or 12 in the nation.