WVU benefits from canceling FSU game
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 07:09
The Mountaineers were originally slated to face off against the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, but West Virginia bought its way out of the highly-anticipated early season matchup in February during its migration to the Big 12 Conference.
College football enthusiasts nationwide were utterly disappointed, especially last weekend, when experts and spectators alike realized they were being deprived of a matchup between two of the nation’s top-10 teams.
But the Mountaineers’ decision to back out of their Sept. 8 meeting was a smart one, in my opinion, considering the ramifications a loss would have had on their 2012 national championship hopes.
Only one national champion in the last 20 years has more than one loss – LSU in 2007.
That’s not to say the Mountaineers couldn’t have beaten the Seminoles Saturday, but with the prestige of the teams in the Big 12 this year, the Mountaineers may already have a prestigious enough schedule to earn a BCS at-large bid, assuming they don’t win the conference crown.
Granted, any of these hopes are far from being realized this early in the year, but numerous experts have already pegged the Mountaineers as an early dark horse to make a run at this year’s title. Traveling to Tallahassee in the second week of the season to face a national powerhouse in the Seminoles would have been an extremely challenging task, at best.
The Mountaineers did look impressive in their season debut against Marshall, as Geno Smith and the offense certainly didn’t have any issues moving the ball en route to the highest-scoring season opener in school history. But a number of defensive and special teams gaffes showed that West Virginia had some areas to improve heading into their bye week.
Had West Virginia not cancelled the Florida State game, they would have been under immense pressure to put a much more polished final product on the field just a week after their season debut, in order to ultimately keep their hopes of a national championship alive.
Instead, they’ll benefit from an extra week of practice and time to evaluate which plays and personnel were most effective in the Friends of Coal Bowl. And although a second-week bye isn’t necessarily the most ideal time for an off-week, considering there is only one game’s worth of film to take in and with which to make adjustments, I don’t think there is any danger of the team losing its positive momentum during their early bye.
Admittedly, Holgorsen probably won’t be able to learn as much about his team during the extra week of self-reflection and evaluation as he would with a tough road test at one of the top FBS programs in the country, but there obviously won’t be nearly as much on the line.
Therefore, instead of putting a number of somewhat untested underclassmen on the field in a second-week game that could play a huge role in the outcome of the rest of the season, true freshmen starters like Karl Joseph and Jordan Thompson will benefit from a bye week, an FCS opponent and a depleted Maryland team in order to prepare for the daunting burden of conference play that opens Sept. 29 with a legitimate opponent in Baylor.