Column - BCS or bust
Published: Friday, October 7, 2011
Updated: Friday, October 7, 2011 03:10
As West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said – season two begins Saturday.
No. 16 West Virginia will host Connecticut to begin 2011 Big East Conference play.
Since the realignment of the Big East Conference in 2005, the Mountaineers have won at least a share of the conference three times.
However, only twice has West Virginia represented the Big East as its at-large bid in a BCS Bowl game.
The school's third appearance in a BCS bowl game must occur this season.
Before I explain the many reasons why West Virginia must win its conference, let me first say one thing – in terms of football, the Big East Conference competition level is terrible.
The conference members have played a total of 34 games against non-conference opponents this season. The eight members of the league were only able to defeat a total of five teams from an automatically qualifying conference.
The most impressive wins by the conference throughout non-conference play are wins over Notre Dame, Maryland, Wake Forest and North Carolina State. Only one of those teams currently has a winning record.
Thus, it's generous to say the competition in the Big East is subpar.
When Dana Holgorsen was hired as head coach, the expectations of winning the Big East Conference Championship immediately followed. During Bill Stewart's tenure, the Mountaineers consistently underachieved. Losing games in which they were favored was common and during those three years, West Virginia never made an appearance in a BCS bowl.
The 2011 West Virginia conference schedule only includes one road game that could present a hostile environment to a visitor – South Florida.
The Mountaineers will play four conference road games. Those four teams combine for an average of 37,724 fans per game this season. South Florida averages the most attendance of those four teams and has always played West Virginia well in Tampa.
Most importantly, Dana Holgorsen's team is far more talented than any other member of the Big East Conference.
West Virginia has shown the ability to defeat inferior opponents convincingly – something other Big East teams struggled with and sometimes failed to accomplish.
Dana Holgorsen also brings something different to the table in 2011. While under the direction of Bill Stewart, West Virginia would rely on a strong defensive performance to win games. This would often result in close games that gave all opponents an opportunity to win.
Holgorsen's game plan is much different. He uses a high-octane offense that forces opponents to attempt to "outscore" the Mountaineers.
Excluding West Virginia, only two Big East Conference teams rank in the top 48 nationally in points scored in 2011. Outscoring opponents is something that should be accomplished.
Failing to win the Big East Conference in 2011 would be a major disappointment for West Virginia. With conference realignment looming, the Mountaineers need to take advantage of playing in an unskilled conference.
Few teams around the country have opponents such as Louisville and Rutgers standing in their way from a BCS Bowl game.