In his first year as a head college football coach, Dana Holgerson found success by winning 10 games and mercilessly beating No. 14 Clemson 70-33 in the 2012 Orange Bowl.
The Mountaineers are no stranger to success and are regularly in the top 25 each season, but West Virginia will be looking to take the next step and challenge for a national title in 2012.
West Virginia will be returning several explosive offensive playmakers in 2012. Perhaps the most polished being senior quarterback Geno Smith. Smith threw for 4385 yards and 31 touchdowns along with only seven interceptions. Look for Smith to be an early contender for the 2012 Heisman trophy.
Smith also has an explosive target through the air in senior Tavon Austin. Austin had 1186 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 182 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Austin could very well be one of the most explosive offensive playmakers in college football next year.
Sophomore wide receiver Stedman Bailey also had 1279 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, West Virginia returns quite a few starters on a top 30 ranked defense from 2011. Standout cornerback Terence Garvin had 43 solo tackles and two interceptions last year. Look for the senior cornerback to provide experience for the Mountaineers secondary in 2012.
Although the Mountaineers will return lots of talent on offense, they will also lose several key defensive players for the 2011 season.
Defensive end Bruce Irvin was drafted as the number 15 overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks, linebacker Najee Goode was the 140th pick and cornerback Keith Tandy was the 174th pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Mountaineers jump to the Big 12 should give them a recruiting advantage over other Big East schools, but that doesn't mean they didn't reel in a good class for 2012.
West Virginia's 2012 class standouts consist of four-star middle linebacker Sam Lebbie (Hyattsville, MD), four-star wide receiver Deontay McManus (Baltimore, MD), four-star offensive guard Tyler Orlosky (Lakewood, OH) and three-star cornerback Brandon Napoleon (Jersey City, NJ).
With an experienced quarterback, two playmaking wide receivers and a defense that should be able to hold their own, West Virginia could make a huge splash in their inaugural year in the Big 12.
Big 12 season record predictions:
Probable losses: None. With Oklahoma playing in Morgantown and Texas still not up to championship level, there isn't a game on their schedule that they absolutely should lose.
My prediction: 10-2