The 2018 football season is inching closer and closer, and with the nucleus of talent that West Virginia returns this fall, that comes with high expectations. According to Las Vegas Superbook, the Mountaineers have 8/1 odds to reach the College Football Playoff, which positions them with the ninth best set of odds currently offered. Only 15 teams are considered higher favorites.
Clemson, OhioSt 5/4
Michigan, Washington 3/1
OU, PennSt 6/1
FSU, Miami, MichSt, Notre Dame, Texas 7/1
West Virginia 8/1
Stanford, USC 10/1
LSU, Virginia Tech 12/1
MissSt, Texas A&M 15/1
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) June 19, 2018
After a rather disappointing 2017 campaign, head coach Dana Holgorsen believes this year’s group will be much better.
“I just think this is the best team we’ve had,” Holgorsen said. “I expect our guys to be able to understand the expectations and to be able to do what it takes to once again position ourselves to potentially win the Big 12, but a little better.”
Obviously, at West Virginia, there is massive pressure from the fan base to win every year. A state that has no professional teams of any sort turns their attention to the flagship university’s athletics programs in hopes of bringing prominence to West Virginia. As for 2018, the pressure will be dialed up just a notch. With the most veteran quarterback and wide receiving corps in the league and a favorable schedule for the first half of the season, the Mountaineers are expected to be a dangerous team. This is something Holgorsen embraces.
“The expectations are to win around here,” Holgorsen told the Sporting News. “We are the 12th most winningest program of all time, so our fan base and our administration expects us to compete.”
If West Virginia wants a chance to make the playoff, they will have to navigate what will be a tough non-conference schedule that includes a neutral site contest with Tennessee in Charlotte and a road game at North Carolina State. Those two non-conference wins vs Power-5 opponents would look very attractive on the resume, but let’s not forget about the back-loaded stretch the Big 12 handed the Eers. West Virginia must travel to Texas, return home to host TCU, hit the road again to face Oklahoma State and then round out the season against the three-time defending league champion, Oklahoma.
Is this the year West Virginia will break through and win the Big 12 and earn a spot in the College Football Playoff? Well, it’s not unlikely, at least in the eyes of Las Vegas.