by Jim Buzerd
Good finish and a nice beginning
The West Virginia University Football Team failed to come up with a winning season in 2019, but the Mountaineers finished on a positive note as they knocked off TCU 20-17 last Friday in Fort Worth. First year head coach Neal Brown will finish his first season at West Virginia with a 5-7 record. That’s pretty good when you consider that with three games to go WVU was 3-6 and looking at the prospect of being decided underdogs in their final three games.
There are silver linings here to find. The Mountaineers won their last two road games at Kansas State and TCU respectively. That’s impressive coming at the end of a season where the team was decimated by injuries and a few defections through the transfer portal. Consider that both of those road wins came with WVU being a double-digit underdog. One would have to go back over 50 years to find another Mountaineer team that won two road games as a double-digit dog.
Since WVU lost to Iowa State 38-14 and to Oklahoma 52-14 in weeks six and seven, the Mountaineers have been very competitive, save for the 37-18 loss at home to Texas Tech. There were the two aforementioned road wins, and a near road win at then undefeated Baylor by a 17-14 count and then a tough 20-13 loss to Oklahoma State in Morgantown. If you were counting you would realize the Mountaineers finished the conference portion of the schedule with a 0-4 record at home, but went 3-2 on the road. Hopefully the home fans will be rewarded for their patience.
The Mountaineer basketball team is off to a 7-0 start and is coming off winning the Cancun Challenge last week and a hard fought 86-81 win over Rhode Island Sunday in the Coliseum. In Cancun, the Mountaineers needed freshman Deuce McBride to score 18 points and rally the Mountaineers, who trailed by 15 in the second half, to a 60-55 win over Northern Iowa. West Virginia led most of the way in a 75-63 win over Wichita State in the final.
Next up for the men’s basketball team will be participating in the inaugural Big12-Big East Challenge. Just like the Big 12-SEC Challenge, 10 teams from the two conferences will play each other this season. The Mountaineers will face off with old Big East foe St. Johns this Saturday at noon in Madison Square Garden. FS1 has the broadcast. Unlike the Big 12-SEC event where all the games are on the same day, the inaugural Big 12-Big East matchups will be scattered about the schedule due, in part, to the late announcement of the four year series and previous scheduling commitments.