Marshall Thundering Herd
Date: Sept. 1
Coach: Doc Holliday (Career record — 12-13)
2011 Record: 7-6, 5-3 Conference USA
Starters returning: Offense 7, defense 5.
Key losses: DE Vinny Curry
Last Meeting vs. WVU: WVU 34, Marshall 13 in 2011
Record vs. WVU: WVU leads series 11-0
Marshall has never beaten in-state rival and West Virginia and if it doesn’t do it this year it may never again get the chance as the series is about to end. Two years ago, of course, the Thundering Herd blew its best chance as QB Geno Smith, making just his second WVU start, led the Mountaineers from two TDs down in the fourth quarter to victory.
Last year the game turned when WVU’s Tavon Austin scored on a 100-yard kickoff return with five minutes to go in the third quarter.
Marshall should be better this year, although it must go without its star defensive end Vinny Curry, but QB Rakeem Cato is now in his second year as a starter and that should help the passing game. A Miami native, Cato threw 2,059 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011.
The biggest area of improvement must come in the offensive line, as they have two talented returning running backs in Tron Martinez and Travon Van, who combined for more than 1,200 yards last year but missed spring practice.
The top recruit is on defense, a four-star corner named A.J. Legget from South Miami High.
Quote to note: “He really improved this spring, and we are certainly looking forward to him continuing to make additional progress. Playing last season as a true freshman really helped him.” – Co-offensive coordinator Tony Petersen on returning QB Rakeem Cato.
Sept. 1 at WVU
Sept. 8 Western Carolina
Sept. 15 Ohio
Sept. 22 at Rice
Sept. 29 at Purdue
Oct. 6 Tulsa
Oct. 20 at Southern Miss
Oct. 27 UCF
Nov. 3 Memphis
Nov. 10 at UAB
Nov. 17 Houston
Nov. 24 at East Carolina
James Madison Dukes
Date: Sept. 15 (Landover, Md.)
Coach: Mickey Matthew (Career record — 96-61)
2011 Record: 8-5 in Colonial Athletic Association
Starters returning: Offense 8, defense 9.
Last Meeting vs. WVU: WVU 45, James Madison 10 in September, 2004
Record vs. WVU: WVU leads series 1-0.
Key losses: DE DJ Bryant, LB Pat Williams, WR Kerby Long.
West Virginia will go into this game as a huge favorite on a neutral field, facing a team that has pulled off a stunning surprise in a similar situation. Always a factor in FBS play, James Madison won the FBS championship in 2004 under coach Mickey Matthews.
That figured to be the most memorable game in school history until 2010 when the Dukes stunned No. 13 Virginia Tech, 21-16, on Tech’s home field, a game that laid warning to all future opponents like WVU that dares to take them on.
The Mountaineers faced JMU only once before, winning 45-10 in September, 2004, which was a game that helped toughen the Dukes up for the national championship run. That wasn’t the only help WVU gave the Dukes, one of their all-time greatest players being a WVU transfer, Curtis Keaton, who went on to play in the NFL.
It will be interesting to see how JMU tries to defense WVU as it normally presents an eight-man front to stop the running game but surely will be challenged by QB Geno Smith and his stable of fleet, sure-handed receivers.
JMU figures to show a whole lot of offense itself behind QB Justin Thorpe and a strong running game built around Dae-Quan Scott, who rushed for more than 1,300 yards last year.
Quote to note: “We think Justin is the best player in the country. He’s the best quarterback we’ve ever had, I think our whole season is (linked to) how well he plays.” Coach Mickey Matthew.
Sept. 1 – St. Francis (Pa.)
Sept. 8 – Alcorn State
Sept. 15 – at WVU (Landover, Md.)
Sept. 22 – at Rhode Island
Oct. 6 – Towson
Oct. 13 – William & Mary
Oct. 20 – at Richmond
Oct. 27 – Georgia State
Nov. 3 – at Maine
Nov. 10 – at Villanova
Nov. 17 – Old Dominion
Date: Sept. 22
Coach: Randy Edsall (Career record — 76-80)
2011 Record: 2-10 in ACC
Last Meeting vs. WVU: WVU 37, Maryland 31 in 2011
Record vs. WVU: WVU Leads Series 25-21-2
Starters returning: Offense 7, defense 8.
Key losses: Transfers QB Danny O’Brien, RB Dave Meggert and OL Max Garcia.
With Pitt gone and Marshall leaving the schedule, Maryland becomes the regional rival for WVU as they play their 49th game. This has been a series where one team dominates for a while, then the other, WVU currently having won six in a row.
The Maryland coach is an old nemesis, Randy Edsall, the former Connecticut coach. He had a rough go last year with just two victories and a tumultuous off-season as his quarterback and an offensive line starter transferred.
The Terps lack depth as in 12 players from last year are gone and Edsall figures to go against the grain in college football, where the pass is becoming the main weapon while he likes to run the ball. With starting QB Danny O’Brien having transferred to Wisconsin, C.J. Brown will take over as a mobile quarterback. When he does throw he should have a solid receiver in top prospect Stefon Diggs.
Defensively the Terps figure to improve, especially against the run, where they were mauled all year.
While Maryland will not be a team of national note, the fact that they tested WVU last year at 37-31 could mean this won’t be an easy game, especially with the Big 12 opener and Homecoming game against Baylor scheduled the next week.
Quote to note: “I understand the players better. I understand what makes them tick. They understand what my expectations are and what direction we want to go with the program and what our program is all about. When people understand each other a little better, things will always run smoother.” – Coach Randy Edsall.
Sept. 1 William & Mary
Sept. 8 at Temple
Sept. 15 Connecticut
Sept. 22 at West Virginia
Oct. 6 Wake Forest
Oct. 13 at Virginia
Oct. 20 NC State
Oct. 27 at Boston College
Nov. 3 Georgia Tech
Nov. 10 at Clemson
Nov. 17 Florida State
Nov. 24 at North Carolina
Baylor Bears (Homecoming)
Date: Sept. 29
Coach: Art Briles (Career record – 59-53)
2011 Record: 10-3 in Big 12
Last Meeting vs. WVU: None
Record vs. WVU: First Meeting
Starters returning: Offense 6, defense 8.
Key losses: Heisman Trophy winning QB Robert Griffin III, RB Terrance Ganaway, WR Kendall Wright, OL Phillip Blake.
You lose the Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback in Robert Griffin III, a Heisman winner, by the way, when there’s a guy named Andrew Luck at Stanford who stayed around to play his senior season, and you know you have some rebuilding to do, but coach Art Briles believes he has the right guy for the right offense in QB Nick Florence. In 2009 Florence had to fill in for an injured Griffin against a good Missouri team and simply threw for 427 yards in an upset victory. Now a senior, he knows the system and is mobile as well as a fluid passer.
Florence has receivers to throw to, starting with tall Terrance Williams on the outside, and with slick Tevin Reese on the inside, trying to match his four 100-yard games of a year ago. The running game lost a 1,500-yard rusher in Terrance Ganaway but they expect to still be able to move over land.
Defensively, Baylor has to improve. You can rest assured they are the perfect match for Holgorsen’s offense in the Big 12 opener, having ranked No. 118 in the nation on pass defense last year.
Quote to note: “You’re talking about (replacing) the guy that was the best player in college football last year. We’re going to have to have people become more accountable, become different playmakers, and we’re going to have to scheme differently.” – Coach Art Briles on losing QB Robert Griffin III, taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft after throwing for over 10,000 yards in his phenomenal career and winning the Heisman Trophy.
Sept. 2 – SMU
Sept. 15 – Sam Houston State
Sept. 21 – at Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 29 – at WVU
Oct. 13 – TCU
Oct. 20 – at Texas
Oct. 27 – at Iowa State
Nov. 3 – Kansas
Nov. 10 – at Oklahoma
Nov. 7 – Kansas State
Nov. 24 – Texas Tech (Arlington, Texas)
Dec. 1 – Oklahoma State
At Texas Longhorns
Date: Oct. 6
Coach: Mack Brown (Career record – 227-113-1, one national title)
2011 Record: 8-5 in Big 12
Last Meeting vs. WVU: 1956 (WVU 7-6)
Record vs. WVU: 0-1
Starters returning: Offense 7, defense 6.
Key losses: DL Kheeston Randall, LB Emmanuel Acho, LB Keenan Robinson, KR Fozzy Whittaker.
There are schools which will accept the 8-5 record Texas put together last year but the Longhorns are not one of them. They expect big improvement, much of it driven by one of the nation’s top defenses, which could be a huge plus in a conference that doesn’t play much defense. There are two potential All-Americans playing end on defense in Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, while the secondary returns everyone and should be hard to throw against.
Offensively, Texas wound up running the ball in a passing conference last season, RBs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron combining for 1,205 yards and 10 TDs. Coach Mack Brown adds a top freshman RB in Jonathan Gray.
A quarterback has to step up and give them the passing attack that eases the pressure on the running game. Coming out of spring it appeared that David Ash had the edge on the job over Case McCoy, brother of former Longhorn star Colt McCoy.
The Longhorns have to survive some early-season Big 12 scheduling woes as the first four games are at Oklahoma State, against WVU, then the traditional Texas showdown vs. Oklahoma and a home game against Baylor.
Quote to note: “We don’t have that senior leadership. We only have two seniors that would start today on defense, and we probably have two seniors that will start on offense. So it will still be a really young football team so the leadership is going to have to come from within with some of the younger guys.” – Texas coach Mack Brown.
Sept. 1 — Wyoming
Sept. 8 — New Mexico
Sept. 15 — at Mississippi
Sept. 29 — at Oklahoma State
Oct. 6 – West Virginia
Oct. 13 — vs. Oklahoma (Dallas)
Oct. 20 — Baylor
Oct. 27 — at Kansas
Nov. 3 — at Texas Tech
Nov. 10 – Iowa State
Nov. 24 — TCU
Dec. 1 — at Kansas State
At Texas Tech Red Raiders
Date: Oct. 13
Coach: Tommy Tuberville (Career record – 123-72)
2011 Record: 5-7 in Big 12
Last Meeting vs. WVU: 1938 Sun Bowl (WVU 7, Texas Tech 6)
Record vs. WVU: 0-1
Starters returning: Offense 9, defense 10.
Key losses: DB Lonnie Edwards, P Adam Jones, TE Alex Torres.
A year ago, you may recall, Texas Tech stunned the nation by upsetting Oklahoma. The Red Raiders seemed to be off and running … then everything fell apart.
There were injuries that contributed to this, but the defense was just dreadful and, if you want to be honest, they didn’t have the quality talent there is in the Big 12. Now they are trying to put things back together, returning 19 starters, 10 of them on the defensive side.
The quarterback Seth Doege is a thrower in the Texas Tech tradition, last year passing for 4,004 yards with 28 TDs and 10 interceptions and his go-to guy, Eric Ward returns. He latched on to 84 of those passes, 11 of them for touchdowns.
If Eric Stephens makes it back from a bad knee injury, they will have a running game to go with the throwing.
In the end, though, it is going to come down to whether or not the defense improves. If it is anything like it was a year ago, it could be another long year.
Quote to note: “Just being here a couple of years, everybody said: ‘You’re on the hot seat.’ I’d like to coach a few of these guys I recruited. So hopefully we can get this thing going a little bit better each year. We’re not there yet. I’ll be the first to tell you, but we’re much closer than we were three years ago.” – Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville.
Sept. 1 — Northwestern State
Sept. 8 — at Texas State
Sept. 15 — New Mexico
Sept. 29 — at Iowa State
Oct. 6 — Oklahoma
Oct. 13 — WVU
Oct. 20 — at TCU
Oct. 27 — at Kansas State
Nov. 3 — Texas
Nov. 10 — Kansas
Nov. 17 — at Oklahoma State
Nov. 24 — Baylor (at Arlington, Texas)
Kansas State Wildcats
Date: Oct. 20
Coach: Bill Snyder (Career record – 159-83-1)
2011 Record: 10-3 in Big 12
Last Meeting vs. WVU: 1931 (Kansas State 19, West Virginia 0)
Record vs. WVU: 1-1
Starters returning: Offense 9, defense 7.
Key losses: WR Sheldon Smith, OT Zach Hanson, OG Colten Freeze, OT Clyde Aufner, DT Ray Kibble, DE Jordan Voelker, LB Emmanuel Lamure, CB David Garrett, FS Tysyn Hartman.
There were double takes all the way around the Big 12 when the pre-season media poll was released and K-State was picked sixth.
How could that be? This was last year’s Cinderella team, coached by the veteran Bill Snyder, who many believe may be the best coach in the conference.
There were a number of key losses and the offensive line has to be rebuilt for the Wildcats live off their running game. However, QB Collin Klein may be the best running quarterback in college football in 2012 and WVU knows what having a player like can do, talking about Pat White, of course.
It would help, however, if he could throw better than he does.
Defensively, junior transfer Nigel Malone had to win a starting job in camp last year and wound up becoming an All-American with seven interceptions. He is going to need help there, however.
Quote to note: “I think it’s a stable conference right now if there is such a thing in college football. It’s quite obvious that the universities that make up the Big 12 conference today are heavily committed to the conference. We lost two very fine universities and programs, but we gained two extremely talented football programs and quality universities, too.” – Veteran K-State coach Bill Snyder on the new Big 12.
Sept. 1 — Missouri State
Sept. 8 — Miami (Fla.)
Sept. 15 — North Texas
Sept. 22 — at Oklahoma
Oct. 6 — Kansas
Oct. 13 — at Iowa State
Oct. 20 — at WVU
Oct. 27 — Texas Tech
Nov. 3 — Oklahoma State
Nov. 10 — at TCU
Nov. 17 — at Baylor
Dec. 1 — Texas
TCU Horned Frogs
Date: Nov. 3
Coach: Gary Patterson (Career record: 109-30)
2011 Record: 11-2 in Mountain West Conference
Last Meeting vs. WVU: 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl (West Virginia 31, TCU 14)
Record vs. WVU: 0-1
Starters returning: Offense 6, defense 7.
Key losses: S Tekerrein Cuba, S Johnny Fobbs, LB Tank Carder, LB Tanner Brock, DT D.J. Yendrey, OL Kyle Dooley.
This is the other newcomer to the Big 12 and in many ways TCU is every bit as well prepared as the Mountaineers. There was a time, in fact, when TCU was a Southwest Conference team that competed weekly with these same teams before it became odd-man out in the new Big 12 and wound up dominant in the Mountain West.
TCU lost three games last year, all by two points, two of them to Baylor of the Big 12 and western power Boise State.
The Horned Frogs run the ball with anyone and can play defense, having led the nation in defense in 2008-2010, three straight years.
They have an All-American candidate at quarterback in 6-5 Casey Pachall and have three running backs who each gained more than 700 yards. When he had to throw he passed for 473 yards and five TDs against Boise State.
Quote to note: “Our goal has always been to win a conference championship no matter what, if you look in our pyramid, no matter what our league is, and that’s going to be our strive in this league to do so also, and also someday play for a national championship.” – TCU coach Gary Patterson
Sept. 8 — Grambling State
Sept. 15 — at Kansas
Sept. 22 — Virginia
Sept. 29 — at SMU
Oct. 6 — Iowa State
Oct. 13 — at Baylor
Oct. 20 — Texas Tech
Oct. 27 — at Oklahoma State
Nov. 3 — at WVU
Nov. 10 — Kansas State
Nov. 24 — at Texas
Dec. 1 — Oklahoma
At Oklahoma State Cowboys
Date: Nov. 10
Coach: Mike Gundy (Career record – 33-24)
2011 Record: 12-1 in Big 12
Last meeting vs. WVU: 1987 Sun Bowl (OSU, 35-33)
Record vs. WVU – 2-1
Starters returning: Offense 8, defense 8.
Key losses: QB Brandon Weeden, WR Justin Blackmon.
A year ago, Mike Gundy’s offense had a high powered, experienced trigger man in Brandon Weeden and the returning Biletnikoff Award winner to catch him in Justin Blackman. This season he starts over with a true freshman quarterback in Wes Lunt, the school’s first true freshman starter at quarterback in six decades.
He gets to run the offense that WVU coach Dana Holgorsen put in when he was at Oklahoma State, an offense that does seem simple enough for a freshman to run, but one suspects the running game will be key here, at least early in the season.
There is enough talent there to pull it off, as this was not simple Big 12 champion on the arm of Weeden alone. RB Joseph Randle figures to move up big time this season, especially since last year with all the passing weapons, he handled the ball most in the offense.
The Cowboys did not live by offense alone. Last year they also led the nation in turnover margin and have the athletes to continue to be aggressive.
And Oklahoma State has one added plus in P/PK Quinn Sharp, a top-line combination kicker who was the Big 12s Special Team Player of the Year last season.
Quote to note: “We’re at a point now that you win 41 games in four years and 23 in the last two years that we’ve established ourselves as being a quality program. Now the coaches and players understand that’s short lived if you aren’t willing to continue to put the time, effort and work in that we have over that period of time.” — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
Sept. 1 – Savannah State
Sept. 8 – at Arizona
Sept. 15 – Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 29 – Texas
Oct. 13 – at Kansas
Oct. 20 – Iowa State
Oct. 27 – TCU
Nov. 3 – at Kansas State
Nov. 10 – WVU
Nov. 17 – Texas Tech
Nov. 24 – at Oklahoma
Dec. 1 – at Baylor
Date: Nov. 17
Coach: Bob Stoops (Career record – 139-34)
2011 Record: 10-3 in Big 12
Last Meeting vs. WVU: 2008 Fiesta Bowl (West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28)
Record vs. WVU: 2-2
Starters returning: Offense 8, defense 7.
Key losses: WR Ryan Broyles, DL Frank Alexander, DB Jamell Fleming, TE James Hanna.
This is college football royalty, royalty that owes WVU one for the 48-28 whipping the Mountaineers put on the Sooners in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.
The game shapes up to be a key battle not only for position in the Big 12, the Sooners being preseason favorites and WVU selected to finish second, but for the All-America quarterback spot and maybe the Heisman Trophy as it matches the Mountaineers‘ Geno Smith with the Sooners’ Landry Jones.
A year ago, even though he threw for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns, it wasn’t considered reaching his potential. Even though he would have been a first-round draft pick had he come out, Jones returned to try to win a national championship.
Jones doesn’t have much experienced, proven depth at the skill positions but works behind a magnificent offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks last season.
Defensively, Oklahoma might be scary. While it lost most of its pass rush, it returns almost everything else and you know these are top-shelf athletes, now to be coached by Bob Stoops’ brother, Mike, who left in 2003 to coach Arizona. The Oklahoma defense slipped while he couldn’t make it big time at Arizona.
Quote to note: “I think it’s fair to say our league, when you add West Virginia and TCU, two teams coming off bowl wins, two ranked football teams, you put them with the rest of what we’ve been doing here in the Big 12, that our league is every bit as strong as it’s ever been, if not stronger.” – Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.
Sept. 1 – at UTEP
Sept. 8 – Florida &M
Sept. 22 – Kansas State
Oct. 6 – at Texas Tech
Oct. 13 – Texas (in Dallas)
Oct. 20 – Kansas
Oct. 27—Notre Dame
Nov. 3 – at Iowa State
Nov. 10 – Baylor
Nov. 17 – at WVU
Nov. 24 – Oklahoma State
Dec. 1 – at TCU
At Iowa State Cyclones
Date: Nov. 24
Coach: Paul Rhoads (Career record: 18-20)
2011 Record: 6-7 in Big 12
Last meeting vs. WVU: None
Record vs. WVU: 0-0
Starters returning: Offense 7, defense 5.
Key losses: OL Kelechi Osemele, RB Hayworth Hicks, DB Leonard Johnson, DE Jake Lattimer, DE Patrick Neal, WR Darius Reynolds, LB Matt Tau’o’ou.
An old nemesis, Paul Rhoads, is trying to lead Iowa State to respectability. He’s always been pretty good at pulling off upsets. You might remember him from the 2007 Pitt game when he stopped the Mountaineers’ high powered offense as Pitt’s defensive coordinator and kept them from playing for a national title.
Last year, as head coach, he did the same thing to Oklahoma State here, knocking them out of the national title picture with a Friday night upset.
Rhoads believes this year’s team is his most talented and deepest, and even though they need six new starters on defense they are anchored by senior linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, perhaps the conference’s best duo.
The offense is experience with nine starters coming back but went into summer camp still looking for its starting quarterback from between senior Steele Jantz and sophomore Jared Barnett.
Quote to note: “In the past maybe I didn’t want to seem stupid. Or that I didn’t know the defense, which is clear that I didn’t, and now I’m taking the coaching. If I play fast, take the coaching, relax and stop having to think so much on the football field, I’ll be a great player.” – Iowa State LB Jeremiah George.
Sept. 1 – Tulsa
Sept. 8 – at Iowa
Sept. 15 – Western Illinois
Sept. 29 – Texas Tech
Oct. 6 – at TCU
Oct. 13 – Kansas State
Oct. 20 –at Oklahoma State
Oct. 27 – Baylor
Nov. 4 – Oklahoma
Nov. 10 – at Texas
Nov. 17 – at Kansas
Nov. 24 — WVU
Date: Dec. 1
Coach: Charley Weis (Career record – 35-27)
2011 Record: 2-10 in Big 12
Starters returning: Offense 7, defense 7.
Key losses: QB Jordan Webb, RB Darrian Miller, WR Keeston Terry, OT Jeff Spikes, LB Steven Johnson.
Charlie Weis understands you don’t build a power in a major conference right away, that it takes time and patience after an 0-9 Big 12 record, so he is working for on improving the talent level and changing the mental approach to the game.
Looking for immediate hope, Weis is bringing at least a dozen transfers in, including three from Notre Dame, where he once served as head coach. The key transfer is former Notre Dame QB Deane Crist, who has the job for this, his senior season.
Kansas should have a solid offensive line, and there is good depth and talent at receiver. If Crist plays up to his potential, the offense should be fine, and Weis is something of an offensive genius. Defensively there is a lot of building to do, and they appear to be ready to do it by bringing a lot of pressure through blitzes.
Quote to note: “Once you get your team more competitive on a weekly basis more wins will follow.” – Kansas Coach Charlie Weis.
Sept. 1 – South Dakota State
Sept. 8 – Rice
Sept. 15 – TCU
Sept. 22 – at Northern Illinois
Oct. 6 – at Kansas State
Oct. 13 – Oklahoma State
Oct. 20 – Oklahoma
Oct. 27 – Texas
Nov. 3 – at Baylor
Nov. 10 – at Texas Tech
Nov. 17 – Iowa State
Dec. 1 – at WVU
Marshall Thundering Herd
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