Editor's note: The following is the fifth of a five-part series dealing with the West Virginia University Mountaineers' 2013 regular-season schedule. Part V deals with the Mountaineers chances in each game a prediction for their final record in their new home-the Big 12 Conference.
MORGANTOWN-Predictions come and go and are worth about as much as the U.S. dollar on the international stock market. So, instead of predicting whether or not the Mountaineers will be successful when they play an opponent in 2013, let's see what the old gold and blue must do in order to win.
William and Mary (Noon)
Saturday, Aug. 31
Personally, if WVU is going to play games against FCS-level teams, it would serve the program to renew its series with the Thundering Herd from Marshall. While the Tribe may have some talented players, it simply does not have enough of them to compete for four quarters against West Virginia.
Take care of the football and get a few stops on defense and WVU will open the season with a victory. Fail to accomplish either, or both, and fans will be asked to endure a long, long 2013.
At Oklahoma (7 p.m.)
Saturday, Sept. 7
Another good recruiting class as well as having good returning talent in place has the Sooners looking for their ninth Big 12 championship and another shot at a national championship game.
Key replacements, however, will have to step up and show that they are ready especially at quarterback where Blake Bell takes over for Landry Jones. The 6-foot-6, 254-pounder has the size, but can he lead Oklahoma's passing attack against defenses loaded up to stop the run.
Defensively, the Sooners won't have Tony Jefferson at safety or linebacker Tom Wort in the middle and the front line will be minus starters Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland.
If WVU can control the football with the run and make the "Belldozer" beat it with his arm instead of his legs then the Mountaineers have a slim chance to be 2-0.
Georgia State (Noon)
Saturday, Sept. 14
One FCS-level school on your schedule is bad enough, but two is downright embarrassing.
Just like its opener, if WVU just takes care of the football and plays a little bit of defense, then the Mountaineers win. A 3-0 start here would get people excited while a 2-1 mark is closer to reality.
Saturday, Sept. 21
If, and this is a big 'if', WVU has any chance at a bowl this season, it must find a way to beat the Terrapins.
Yes, the Mountaineers have had their way in the bitter border-state-rivalry, but it wasn't too long ago when it was UM that owned the long winning streak and third-year head coach Randy Edsell has shown the ability to slow down WVU's explosive offenses over the years.
Maryland also returns two of the most explosive offensive weapons the Mountaineers will see this season in quarterback Perry Hills and wide receiver/returner Stefon Diggs.
The defense performed pretty well in a 31-21 win a year ago. A similar performance this year, however, may not guarantee a victory.
Oklahoma State (TBA)
Saturday, Sept. 28
West Virginia's first Big 12 home game brings in an OSU team expected, by many, to be the team to beat in the conference this season. And, for good reason, as the Cowboys possess not one, but two solid quarterbacks in Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh throwing to a pair of all-Big 12 type receivers in Josh Stewart and Blake Jackson.
The defense showed steady improvement in 2012 and finished ranked in the middle of the pack. Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey are two veteran linebackers that will anchor the Cowboys' prevent unit and Shamiel Gary was one of the conference's top tackling defensive back.
This could be the first of several 'night' games in Morgantown. Anyone who has attended a night game at Milan Puskar Stadium will tell you that the stadium is electric and anything can happen.
Don't count the Mountaineers out completely. A solid run game as well as some miscues on the part of the Cowboys could make this game a little more interesting than the Vegas oddsmakers would like to have.
At Baylor (TBA)
Saturday, Oct. 5
These two teams combined for 133 points and more than 1,500 yards of offense a year ago. Neither, however, will have the players that accounted for the majority of that production.
Senior quarterback Nick Florence as well as his favorite target in that game-Terrance Williams-have gone to the NFL as have WVU's Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
Look for junior Bryce Petty to keep Art Briles' passing attack rolling while junior running back Lache Seastrunk, who had 11 yards on five carries in the loss at Morgantown, has elevated himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion with his late-season heroics last year.
Defense, for both teams, has been the issue with the Bears ranked second-worst in the nation a year ago. Seven starters are back, but the secondary was horrible giving hopes to Mountaineer fans that WVU's offense will find enough holes to pick up a very, very important road win in 2013.
Texas Tech (TBA)
Saturday, Oct. 19
After six straight weeks of games, West Virginia returns home and gets a welcomed week off before entertaining a Texas Tech team that not only dealt the Mountaineers their first defeat in 2012, but carved up the Mountaineer defense and became the blueprint for how to beat WVU last season.
Former-Red Raider Kliff Kingsbury takes over the reigns of his alma mater. He might want to see if he has any eligibility remaining because Seth Doege and his 4,200 yards of passing are gone. Instead the Red Raiders will come to Morgantown with Michael Brewer, a Texas high school passing star, at the helm.
Eight starters return on a defense that harassed Geno Smith all game long, including the entire front four. However, two of the lost starters are safeties D.J. Johnson and Cody Davis, who were among the best in the league at that position a year ago.
A win is a win, but a win at home after a week off would be critical to WVU having any success in 2013.
At Kansas State (TBA)
Saturday, Oct. 26
Collin Klein is gone as is the entire front seven on defense.
That's the good news for Mountaineer fans. The bad is that Daniel Sams and Sam Johnson have the talent to become the next Collin Klein and veteran head coach Bill Snyder always seems to find a way to fill in the gaps on defense.
The defense will have to play a whole lot better than it did in a 55-14 loss a year ago and even that won't matter if WVU can't sustain drives. The running game, as it will all season long, will be critical in order to keep the ball out of the hands of the Wildcats' offense as well as keep the KSU fans in their seats.
At TCU (TBA)
Saturday, Nov. 2
Trevone Boykin, who led the Horned Frogs to a double-overtime win in Morgantown, returns but may not be the starting signal caller for TCU with the return of Casey Pachall.
Whoever the starter is will face a Mountaineer secondary that had better step up its game if WVU wants to have any success in 2013. Moreover, the defense brings back nine starters, including star pass rusher Devonte Fields.
Visiting teams have enjoyed very little success at Amon G. Carter Stadium over the years. West Virginia can win this game, but it must be solid in all three phases and hope for a little luck via a couple of TCU turnovers.
Saturday, Nov. 9
Name the coach in the Big 12 Conference most feeling the 'hot seat' and it would be the Longhorns' Mack Brown.
The veteran coach is coming off of a 9-4 season, but still have the Texas faithful calling for his head should the Longhorns not sit atop the league standings and be in line for a national championship berth.
On paper this shouldn't be much of a game, but this game won't be decided on paper, it will be played in front of a sellout crowd at Milan Puskar Stadium (probably at night).
Stranger thans have happened so don't count the old gold and blue out, yet.
At Kansas (TBA)
Saturday, Nov. 16
Not exactly the kind of opponent you want to face after taking on Texas.
An emotional victory over the Longhorns could have you primed and ready for an upset by the upstart Jayhawks while a lopsided loss to Texas could send your team Lawrence (Kansas) with little confidence a 'playing-out-the-string' attitude.
Either could get you beat by a KU squad looking to become known than just being a "basketball school."
WVU's stable of backs, if they are all healthy, could be the difference as the Jayhawks ranked 113th in the nation in total defense and had no pass rush.
Iowa State (TBA)
Friday/Saturday, Nov. 29/30
The Cyclones keep managing to be just good enough to get to a bowl game and that-a bowl-may be the only prize awaiting the winner of this year's final regular season contest.
WVU's defense performed well against ISU's Sam Richardson and the offense should have enough weapons to move the ball against a Cyclones defense minus All-American A.J. Klein as well as several other starters.
This team could win anywhere from three to nine games. It could also lose as many as 10. Be happy with six, ecstatic with eight and if there are more get ready to travel out West for the bowl season.