The Mountaineers don't officially hit the field for a couple more months, but it's never too early to look ahead. Here's a glance at their non-conference opponents for the coming season.
September 4th - Coastal Carolina - Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, W.Va.
The Mountaineers kick off their 2010 slate against the Coastal Carolina…. uh…. hold on…. Google….Chanticleers! (What’s that? I don’t know either… back to Google… it’s a rooster, of some kind.) What do you need to know about this game: it kicks off at 3:30 in the afternoon. Frankly, that’s my favorite kick time since it makes the tailgating so much better. As for what happens on the field, who knows, who cares? The Mountaineers should make mincemeat of the Chanticleers. Win by less than 28 and listen to Mountaineer Nation moan and groan.
September 10th - at Marshall – Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, W.Va.
The ‘Eers make their second-ever trip to Joan C. Edwards stadium in Huntington.Yes, their stadium is named after a woman - I think she played linebacker. Either way, this game (like its predecessor in 2007) is the most debated part of the Friends of Coal Bowl series. WVU feels like it shouldn't have to play in Huntington, Marshall feels like they should get some home games out of the deal. I understand both points of view, but my trip to H-Town in ’07 showed me that they’re woefully unprepared to handle the crowd. I anticipate they’ll be woefully unprepared to handle the WVU D as well. That said, I expect a few low-scoring games as quarterback Geno Smith gets his feet under him. The O will sputter, the D will stymie and the Mountaineers will come back to Morgantown with a win, but not without making ‘Eer nation wring its hands for a few quarters.
September 18th – Maryland - Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, W.Va.
September 18 is the date this blogger has circled on his calendar. I’m a Mountaineer by birth and Terrapin by education. My four years at Maryland were the Ron Vanderlinden Era, an era not characterized in any way, shape or form by winning. This game has been off of the schedule for the last two seasons so WVU could split their series with Colorado, so it’s good to see a natural rivalry back on the slate. Look for lots of pre-game festivities on this site and on Shell Games, a University of Maryland blog run by a former college roommate. I expect another competitive tilt as the offense continues to learn what its new signal caller can and can’t do. The defense and the raucous atmosphere at Mountaineer Field should put this one in the books as a victory for the Old Gold n’ Blue, but expect the Terps to put up a fight.
September 25th - at LSU – Tiger Stadium, aka ‘Death Valley’, Baton Rouge, La.
This is easily the Mountaineers most-anticipated nonconference road game since they opened the 2002 season at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin. What happens in Death Valley? Visiting teams lose, that’s what. If the sun’s down, forget about it. This could be one of the best nonconference matchups throughout the entire college football landscape in 2010. Do the ‘Eers have a chance? Sure. Is it a long shot? Most definitely. Could it happen? Let’s try to not think about it too much. If Geno can play without mistakes, if Noel Devine can break a couple big ones, if the defense can force Jordan Jefferson into making mistakes and hold the Tigers’ running game of Stevan Ridley and Richard Murphy in check, then the ‘Eers just might have a chance. More likely, the Mountaineers hold tough but let it slip away at the end. We’ve seen that movie before.
October 9th - UNLV - Mountaineer Field, Morgantown W.Va.
The Runnin’ Rebs are under the tutelage of new head coach
Jerry Tarkanian Bobby Hauck, and six wins will be a good season for them. So if they come to Morgantown and win, things will get burned. I don’t see that happening, except in the case of the Mountaineers looking ahead five days to their always-interesting matchup against the South Florida Bulls. This game closes the door on the non-conference slate, which is the most notable aspect of this matchup. If the ‘Eers are sitting as a one loss team (or better?) after this game things will be lookin’ good. Even if they get surprised by a couple of teams along the way, all is not lost. The real season (the one that can get the Mountaineers into a BCS Bowl) awaits.