College football is right around the corner and the Star-Telegram is bringing you its Top 25 teams going into the season.
Today we look at No. 13 – West Virginia.
Top 25 to date
LSU (25); Texas (24); Central Florida (23); Oregon (22); Florida State (21); Boise State (20); USC (19); Mississippi State (18); Michigan (17); Virginia Tech (16); TCU (15); Notre Dame (14).
Nuts and bolts
Location: Morgantown, West Virginia.
Coach: Dana Holgorsen (53-37, seven seasons at WVU)
2017: 7-6, 5-4 Big 12 (lost to Utah 30-14 in Heart of Dallas Bowl)
Last league title: 2011 (as a member of the Big East)
Three things to know
1. Heisman hopeful. The Mountaineers are already running a Heisman campaign for quarterback Will Grier. Grier is coming off a standout junior season in which he threw for 3,490 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Grier is expected to carry an offense that returns a TD machine in receiver David Sills, who had 60 catches for 980 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Also back is Gary Jennings, who led the team with 1,096 receiving yards but had just one TD.
The running game is expected to revolved around Kennedy McKoy, who is coming off a season in which he rushed for 596 yards and seven touchdowns.
2. Run D, please. The Big 12 is known for its offenses, but West Virginia had an embarrassing performance when it came to rushing defense a season ago. The Mountaineers ranked last in the Big 12, allowing an eye-opening 204.2 yards a game on the ground.
That has to improve if West Virginia wants to threaten for the Big 12 title.
The Mountaineers won’t be huge up front, but they do have USC transfer Kenny Bigelow in the mix now. At the very least, they have to find a rotation that makes this not the liability it was last season.
3. Holgorsen hype. Dana Holgorsen is entering his eighth season at West Virginia – seventh since it joined the Big 12. He’s had a pair of double-digit win seasons in that span, and is in his best position to make a run at the league title.
A quarterback such as Grier doesn’t come around too often and the Mountaineers have to take advantage. Holgorsen is known for his offensive chops, but this season could come down to how much improved his defense is.
Three games to watch
1. Sept. 1 vs. Tennessee. The Volunteers have a new coach and are in rebuilding mode. The Mountaineers can get their season off to a fast start by beating an SEC team.
2. Nov. 10 vs. TCU. This is a matchup between the two teams projected to give Oklahoma a run for its money in the Big 12.
3. Nov. 23 vs. Oklahoma. The Sooners make the trek out to Morgantown this season, and this could be a preview of the Big 12 title game.