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COLUMN: The Mountaineers are nicely on their strategy to disproving preseason pessimism

A 3rd of the best way by way of the 2023 season, West Virginia has kind of disproven its dismal preseason projections.

The Mountaineers had been notably picked to complete final within the 14-team Huge 12 and a few folks even considered them as only a one-win staff. However, WVU has received three of its first 4 video games and is positioned nicely in a weaker-than-expected Huge 12 convention.

“I’m not shocked we’re 3-1,” WVU head coach Neal Brown stated Monday. “I assumed we had an opportunity. No person else wished to pay attention however I assumed we had an opportunity.”

Whereas wins over Duquesne, Pitt and Texas Tech haven’t precisely attracted nationwide consideration for WVU, the notion of the Mountaineers has undoubtedly risen over the primary month of the season. ESPN’s inside projections have WVU favored in half of its remaining video games (at Houston, vs. Oklahoma State, vs. BYU and at Baylor) and have a fifth sport as a toss-up (vs. Cincinnati). Profitable three of these video games would put the Mountaineers again in bowl sport qualification and much out of the basement of the convention.

The brand new projections are good, however Brown is aware of they don’t actually imply something.

“We’ve bought to show that we’re a contender,” Brown stated. “We’re 1-0 ( within the Huge 12) however I’m unsure we’ve grabbed nationwide consideration or something but. We’ve bought to proceed to win video games.”

To get again into the nationwide highlight, nevertheless, Brown is aware of they should intention increased than simply qualifying for a bowl sport.

“You’ve bought to go win,” Brown stated. “The entire purpose is you get into November with an opportunity to win your league. That’s the best way we speak about it. I’m not sitting within the staff conferences saying that however from a workers standpoint, that’s the purpose.

“To do this, you’ve bought to defend your property turf, which we’ve completed up to now, and you then’ve bought to go beat high quality groups on the street.”

This week’s sport at TCU (8 p.m./ESPN2) will function WVU’s first actual take a look at of the season and its first likelihood to make some noise within the convention.

TCU was picked fifth within the Huge 12 preseason ballot with three first-place votes. The Horned Frogs have recovered from a week-one loss to Colorado to win three in a row and sit at 3-1, similar to WVU. They signify a transparent step up in competitors from Pitt and Texas Tech.

A win in Fort Price wouldn’t solely give WVU a reasonably large upset within the Huge 12, however it might additionally all however assure the Mountaineers would qualify for a bowl sport, needing simply two extra wins of their final seven video games. To not point out a 2-0 begin in league play.

“I believe that is about proving if we’re going to be a contender within the league or not,” Brown stated. “They had been one of many favorites within the preseason and we’re happening the street in a troublesome surroundings and we have to benefit from that chance.”