After two straight subpar seasons, the West Virginia football team is looking to regain relevancy in 2014.
Following the team’s 4-8 record in 2013, WVU Director of Athletics Oliver Luck stated his disappointment with the team in a lengthy statement, essentially putting the pressure on coach Dana Holgorsen to succeed this upcoming year.
WVU kicks off its season August 30 at 3:30 against the Alabama Crimson Tide on national television on ABC.
The Crimson Tide, like WVU last year, still aren’t sure who will start at quarterback this season. But, Alabama has been predicated on its defense through the years, which helps explain why Nick Saban’s squad has won three national championships in the last four seasons.
But, Holgorsen said he and his team team aren’t losing sleep.
"I can promise you this. When our kids walk into the Georgia Dome, they will not be scared," Holgorsen said last week to a crowd at the WVU Coaches Caravan. "We’re going to get in there and fight our (tails) off."
The game will take place in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, home of the Atlantic Falcons and Georgia Bulldogs.
When practice officially kicks off on August 1, Holgorsen said his plan is to simply focus on the Mountaineers for three weeks. Only 10 days before kickoff against the Crimson Tide, he said, will WVU focus on its first opponent.
This matchup was officially slated for 2014 back in 2012, a time when it looked like the Mountaineers had at least a shot of upsetting Alabama. But, since 2012, WVU has a combined record of 10-15 with no bowl victories, compared to Alabama who won 24 of its last 27 games with a BCS Championship.
Saban, a native of West Virginia, said he’s excited to face his hometown team. Alabama is 10-8-1 all-time against Big 12 teams but has never faced the Mountaineers. The Crimson Tide last beat a Big 12 team in the 2010 BCS National Championship against Texas.
"The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is an outstanding event, and we look forward to opening the 2014 season in Atlanta," Saban said. "The exposure for our football players and our program is tremendous, and it is a great experience for our fans. This will be the sixth time we have played a non-conference game at a neutral site and the fourth time at Atlanta."
WVU will also face Towson and Maryland in its non-conference schedule with kickoff Sept. 6 and Sept. 13, respectively.
"(The game) is a great opportunity for our football program and will be an exciting event for our fans," Holgorsen said. "Alabama is one of the top teams in college football history, and it will be a tough challenge for us."