Top 10 Games Countdown: No. 2

The season is almost here! That's right, we're less than one week away from West Virginia Football taking the field for what is expected to be a full 2021 season. The Mountaineers will kick things off at Maryland just two days from now. As we approach that date, EerSports will do what we always do - count down the days until kickoff, with each day covering a specific topic, stat, or prediction for the upcoming season. Today, as we always do two days out, we take a look at two make or break games for West Virginia. These aren't the toughest games. They're not the most exciting games. They're the games that could have the biggest impact on the year as a whole. 

This time around, there's one catch - it's kind of like I'm doing three games. See,

we already addressed just how big this weekend's game against Maryland is for the whole season. Not taking into account rivalry game, season opener, national television, recruiting territories, etc etc etc..... when WVU wins their season opener against a Power Five opponent, the Mountaineers finish with a record, on average, of 9-3. When they lose their season opener against a Power Five opponent, they finish with a record, on average, of 6-6. Barely reaching .500 or near the top of the Big 12 and playing in an elite bowl game? That's a huge difference. So, the season opener is one but, since we already dedicated an entire day to that, let's take a look at two others. 

September 18th vs Virginia Tech

Did you think I wasn't going to pick this game? It's obviously another big rivalry game, and one that not only the team and coaches want to win, but that the fans desperately want, especially with the way Tech has kind of owned the series of late. The Hokies have won the last three matchups, and ten of the last thirteen. So, there's that angle. 

However, this year's game also falls in a place on the schedule that could really send WVU one way or another. If the Mountaineers lose their opener to Maryland this game to Tech, they could be sitting at 1-3 heading into October, with fans restless and concerns about starters and where things are going from there. Even at 2-2, I'm not sure many will be pleased with the product on the field. 

A win, though? That basically guarantees 2-1 or 3-0 heading into the Oklahoma game. Even if a trip to Norman results in a beatdown from the No. 2-ranked Sooners, the Mountaineers could come out the other side with a 3-1 record, still on a high from beating two rivals, a stretch of three very winnable games (Texas Tech, @ Baylor, and @ TCU), with the knowledge that their toughest conference game is already out of the way. In that scenario, 6-1 and welcoming a top ten Iowa State team to Morgantown for a night game with College GameDay is not out of the question. Seriously. Ohio State-Penn State will be the lone competition unless someone else surprises (like Florida State, who plays Clemson that day), and I'm not certain the Nittany Lions are any good. They began the year 0-5 last season with losses to Nebraska and Maryland, then got some hype with four straight wins to end the year, despite those four teams combining for a 9-21 record. Seriously. Look it up. Rutgers (3-6) was the best team they faced during that winning streak. 

November 13th @ Kansas State

THIS game?! Of all the other games I could talk about being 'make or break,' this is the one I pick? Yes. Yes, it is. West Virginia will have just finished home contests against Iowa State and Oklahoma State, and will have Texas waiting for them in Morgantown the week after this game. Three of the four toughest (or biggest) teams in the Big 12 in a four-week span, with this game against Kansas State wedged in the middle. This is a can't lose game. Like one that I don't care if WVU wins 13-10 in a turnover-filled snoozefest..... they cannot lose it. It will either stifle momentum (if the Mountaineers were winning), or send the team off a cliff in what could be a four (or more) game losing streak. 

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