Just How Different Is WVU Football Schedule? - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Just How Different Is WVU Football Schedule?

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MORGANTOWN -

For years, West Virginia University supporters have been looking for a more competitive league schedule. Rarely did the rest of the Big East step up to deliver one. There was the occasional game against an SEC opponent that increased the strength of competition, but not the big knockout Big East game that there once was when WVU visited Louisville with both teams ranked in the top five.

It is obvious that there is a more challenging schedule awaiting WVU this fall. But just how much more challenging is it? Let's go to the numbers for some comparisons.

2011 SCHEDULE

OPPONENT RESULT 2011 RECORD
vs. Marshall W 34-13 (7-6)
vs. Norfolk State W 55-12 (9-3)
at Maryland W 37-31 (2-10)
vs. (2) LSU L 47-21 (13-1)
vs. Bowling Green W 55-10 (5-7)
vs. UCONN W 43-16 (5-7)
at Syracuse L 49-23 (5-7)
at Rutgers W 41-31 (9-4)
Louisville L 38-35 (7-6)
at Cincinnati W 24-21 (10-3)
Pitt W 21-20 (6-7)
at USF W 30-27 (5-7)
vs. Clemson W 70-33 (10-4)

2012 SCHEDULE

OPPONENT 2011 RECORD
vs. Marshall (5-7)
vs. James Madison (8-5)
vs. Maryland (2-10)
vs. Baylor (10-3)
at Texas (8-5)
at Texas Tech (5-7)
vs. Kansas State (10-3)
vs. TCU (11-2)
at Oklahoma St. (12-1)
vs. Oklahoma (10-3)
at Iowa State (6-7)
vs. Kansas (2-10)

Since we can't project how many wins a team will have in 2012, we have to take its 2011 record and compare. Texas and Kansas are expected to improve this season. Few of those Big 12 teams are expected to do worse in 2012 than they did in 2011. Baylor has one big unknown in seeing how it replaces Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.

Big East opponents finished the 2011 season with a winning percentage of 54 percent compared to a winning percentage of 64.4 percent by Big 12 teams.

WVU played two ranked opponents in 2011 and that was No. 2 LSU in September and No. 14 Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Mountaineers lost to LSU, but hammered Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. But, you already knew that.

Six of the new Big 12 teams finished the season in the top 25 and all six of them were ranked No. 17 or higher.

The Big 12 is also the only conference in the country that can claim it has three 2011 conference champions among its membership.

Travel will definitely be a little different in 2012. Here are the distances to road games in 2011 versus 2012.

2011 TRAVEL

OPPONENT DISTANCE
at Maryland 207 miles
at Syracuse 429 miles
at Rutgers 354 miles
at Cincinnati 305 miles
at USF 818 miles

2012 TRAVEL

OPPONENT DISTANCE
James Madison (Landover, MD) 215 miles
at Texas 1,399 miles
at Texas Tech 1,465 miles
at Oklahoma State 1,084 miles
at Iowa State 871 miles

WVU will travel more than twice as many miles and almost three times as many miles per road game as it did in 2011. Does that matter? It probably matters more to the fans who will need to fly to four of the five games on the road in 2012.

Perhaps the biggest question facing the Mountaineers pertains to the National Championship. WVU will likely start the season around the top ten. Would the Big East have afforded a tough enough schedule to give the Mountaineers a shot at being No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS rankings prior to the BCS announcements? In the past those questions would have most definitely come up. Don't expect to hear anyone questions the strength of the Mountaineers schedule in 2012.

One more comparison between the two leagues. The Big 12 is viewed as stable behind a new, strong Commissioner in Bob Bowlsby. The Big East is viewed as teetering on collapse with an interim Commissioner after former Big East Commissioner John Marinatto's resignation last week.

WVU wanted to step into a tougher, more legitimate conference in terms of football. It has and now it is time to show it belongs.

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