WVU fans need to keep the faith

Well, I don’t know about you, but since the oddsmakers at the Las Vegas Casinos have predicted West Virginia to be be a 120-point underdog in the games they have elected to predict, the Mountaineer fan has elected to sell his tickets and just stay home.

Why go through all of the time and expense of packing up the family, making the two-hour trek to Morgantown and pay the ever-increasing costs of parking and concessions to watch WVU lose by a double-digit margin each and every time they take to the artificial surface at Milan Puskar Stadium?

Let’s just hope those aren’t the thoughts of most fans of the old gold and blue. Season ticket sales are hovering under the 30,000 mark, but could surpass that amount now that the packages are being offered to ‘first time’ purchasers.

Yes, the vast majority of the news from around the sports world have the Mountaineers picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 Conference, lose by as many as four touchdowns in their opener against perennial national championship contender Alabama, and struggle to repeat last year’s dismal 4-8 mark.

But as I was reminded by former-Glenville State College quarterback Jed Drenning, who serves as a sideline reporter, some of WVU’s greatest seasons have come when the old gold and blue was picked as heavy underdogs.

Say what you want about WVU’s new home-the Big 12.

Yes, the Mountaineers’ first two seasons have witnessed more downs than ups. A 6-12 conference record (a strangely symmetrical 3-6 both at home and on the road) have caused many to question Oliver Luck’s decision to move West Virginia out of the now-defunct Big East. Some have wondered why WVU’s former quarterback didn’t try to get the Mountaineers into Conference USA where they could renew their series with instate rival Marshall.

But a closer look at those same results show a one-point (50-49) loss to No. 13 Oklahoma and a two-overtime setback (39-38) to TCU during the 2012 season while last year’s mark could have been a lot different if the Mountaineers could have overcome their own mistakes against Texas Tech (37-27), Kansas State (35-12), Texas (47-40 OT), Kansas (31-19) and Iowa State (52-44 3OT).

Victories in those ‘winnable’ contests would turn that 6-12 mark into an 11-7 mark and gives one hope that this year’s ‘Big 12 ready’ squad will find a way to overcome their woes of the past and turn those close losses into wins.

Yes, much has been said concerning WVU’s quarterback carousel, which witnessed three different signal-callers get their chance to start in 2013, as well as the Mountaineers’ woeful play on defense.

WVU has shown that it can win without a dominant passer if the play of the offensive line is solid enough to give the team a stout rushing attack. And the defense can improve if the offense can keep them off of the field.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com