Been a fan for a long time. Tomorrow’s game against Baylor represents a real opportunity for West Virginia University to prove that it belongs in the Big 12, that all of the success that it has had in the lead-up to last year’s Orange Bowl was real.
That’s why I’m worried.
I was at last Saturday’s game, and although the Mountaineers won, there were all kinds of worrying signs that the team might have reverted back to the form that lead to two ugly in-conference losses for the team last year. The team’s tackling was abysmal. The team’s inability to defend tight ends was on display. The offensive line functioned more like a sieve than a dam. And the team constantly found itself trying to get huge yards on third downs.
One of the things about the team’s Orange Bowl (and subsequent three victories) is that it came against teams that nobody would describe as good. Marshall and James Madison were sacrificial lambs. Maryland is coached by an idiot (albeit one who knows how to grind games into coma-inducing affairs). Which leaves us with Clemson, a game in which everybody enthusiastically celebrates as evidence of WVU’s transcendence. But Clemson sucked last year, just like they sucked last week against Florida State. Clemson is a highly overrated program playing in a woefully weak football league. WVU’s evisceration of them last year should have been understood within that context, one in which we enjoyed the great win but recognized it came against substandard competition.
Which is why I’m afraid of Baylor (and the rest of the Big 12). I want as much as anybody to see the season that everybody has prepared themselves for: double-digit wins, an offensive juggernaut, a team that runs away from their opposition by drowning them in points…
But Big 12 teams are serious business, especially compared against teams from the ACC. Here’s hoping for a good win tomorrow, but a shoot-out in which nothing is certain until late in the fourth-quarter seems the much likelier outcome.