The college football season officially starts this weekend. I’ve seen a few other sports writers come out with their predictions of the local teams.
So here goes – I’ll drink the Kool-Aid and do the backward Nestea plunge into the pool.
First up is West Virginia.
WVU finished a very disappointing 4-8 last season. The Mountaineers have nowhere to go but up. Now that they are in the tougher Big 12 Conference, WVU literally has a tough road. The away games in venues like Texas and Oklahoma are rough.
Their non-conference game with Alabama this Saturday in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl throws WVU into the fire, but hopefully they will make a good showing and win or lose, they will have a better record in 2014.
WVU and Coach Dana Holgorsen have several returning starters back on both sides of the ball and some depth at key positions like running back.
My prediction for the Mounties is 7-5 and a decent bowl game.
Next up is the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Coach Doc Holliday has recruited some great players for the Huntington school. They had a good season in 2013 and won a bowl game.
Many are predicting Marshall to win the Conference USA championship and to go to a big bowl.
I have no problem with that hype. The Herd returns Heisman Trophy candidate Rakeem Cato at quarterback and several other starters.
Many predict Marshall to go undefeated, but we all know that is tough for any team in any league. I think the Herd will stump their toe on at least one Saturday, but they should meet expectations. They were picked No. 25 by Sports Illustrated in the preseason poll. They should crack the Top 25 in the AP poll after a few wins.
My prediction for Marshall is 11-1, with a heart-breaking loss sometime during the season. (I hope I’m wrong.)
Then we have the Kentucky Wildcats who play in the hard-hitting SEC. Coach Mark Stoops has brought in some good recruits into Lexington.
The Cats have had it tough the past few seasons. After all, they are known as a basketball school.
Stoops is bringing more excitement to the football program and there is no reason he can’t build UK into a winning program.
The Cats always have a tough slate in the SEC. But expect more wins this season by UK.
My prediction for Kentucky is 6-6 and a bowl game. At least that’s a start.
Morgantown, West Virginia will be the home of professional baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ New York-Penn League entrant. An announcement was made Monday that the Jamestown Jammers’ franchise is coming to North Central West Virginia to play in the brand new ballpark under construction at the University Town Centre development off of Interstate 79.
… WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen has announced that redshirt senior cornerback Ishmael Banks has been approved by the NCAA to compete in the 2014 season beginning with the Sept. 20 game against Oklahoma. He will miss the first three games due to NCAA eligibility requirements.
… The Big 10-Cardinal Conference Challenge at West Virginia State University will be Saturday, Dec. 20 which includes Mingo Central High School. Here is the schedule: 8 a.m. Liberty Harrison vs. Lincoln County; 9:30 a.m. Philip Barbour vs. Tolsia; 11a.m. North Marion vs.Wayne; 12:30 p.m. East Fairmont vs. Herbert Hoover; 2 p.m. Lincoln vs. Sissonville; 3:30 p.m. Grafton vs. Scott; 5 p.m. Fairmont Senior vs. Chapmanville; 6:30 p.m. Bridgeport vs. Mingo Central; 8 p.m. Robert C. Byrd vs. Poca.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern)