Schedule Analysis

The Big East has announced its 2007 league slate of football games, and as usual West Virginia is slotted for several games that will be nationally televised. WVU will face Maryland, Louisville and Pitt in front of nationwide audiences. The first two of those three games will be on Thursdays – West Virginia's only non-Saturday appearances of the season.

WVU has been all over the week in recent years, playing games on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in addition to the traditional Saturday dates, but this year signals at least a bit of a return to normalcy. The Mountaineers have just two Thursday night contests – something both head coach Rich Rodriguez and many West Virginia fans will agree is a good thing. The two dates (Sept. 13 against Maryland and Nov. 8 against Louisville, are also far enough apart so as not to cause major congestion and many of the odd-day preparation times experienced by last year's team.

That leads to a second big plus in the schedule – regularity of game spacing. WVU does have a short week of prep for Maryland after an even shorter road trip to Marshall, but the Terrapins also have just four days' time to get ready, and they will be returning from a lengthy road trip to Florida International before hosting the Mountaineers. WVU then plays three more Saturday games, gets an open date on Oct. 13 (well-placed in that it come precisely halfway through the schedule, then plays two more games before the second Thursday-nighter against the Cardinals. The Mountaineers will have 11 days before that matchup – another nice, if shorter break. The three concluding games are also on a regular Saturday schedule.

West Virginia also has a nice back end to the schedule, with three of the final four and four of the last six games at home. The Homecoming date with Mississippi State is perfectly positioned for a crisp fall game on campus, and getting Louisville and Pitt nearly a month apart, yet both on the new home turf of Mountaineer Field, is a plus as well.

"I think our fans are going to love the home games on this schedule, and it's good to start the season at home and end the season at home," Athletic Director Ed Pastilong said. "We have some exciting games scheduled for Morgantown this year that will again showcase Mountaineer football to the nation."

West Virginia's tougher opponents, at least, those that are expected to be in that category, are also pretty well spaced throughout the slate. The back-to-back combo of Rutgers and Louisville does jump out, but with 11 days between those games, it should not be of major concern. South Florida, Maryland and Pitt are likewise sprinkled across the schedule rather than coming one after the other, so in all the schedule makers were kind to the Mountaineers this year.

Of course, no schedule is perfect, and there are a couple of items that jump out. West Virginia plays four of its first six games on the road, including a four out of five stretch, so the Mountaineers will have to show they are ready to win in hostile environments early on. With proven offensive leadership, however, that should not be an insurmountable task. Still, road trips take a day of preparation out of the equation, and returning from long trips can be draining to players and coaches alike. The journey to Tamp to take on South Florida, which could well win the league in 2007, followed by a long trip in the other direction to Syracuse, is certainly a potential stumbling block. Given the preference, an open date between those two games might have been better, but there are always going to be one game or two that offers that trap potential.

All in all, it's a good schedule for the Mountaineers. It offers national coverage, but balances that with a mostly fan-friendly set of dates. There isn't a killer stretch of games, and if West Virginia can get through the month of September unscathed, it could have the chance of regaining the conference championship, and attendant BCS bowl berth, that it lost in 2006. Should WVU fall short of those goals, it certainly can't be blamed on the layout of the games.

WEST VIRGINIA 2007 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

DAY DATE OPPONENT TV TV
Sat 9/1 WESTERN MICHIGAN   Parents Day
Sat 9/8 at Marshall  
Thu 9/13 at Maryland ESPN/ESPN2  
Sat 9/22 EAST CAROLINA  
Sat 9/29 at South Florida  
Sat 10/6 at Syracuse  
Sat 10/20 MISSISSIPPI STATE Homecoming
Sat 10/27 at Rutgers  
Thu 11/8 LOUISVILLE ESPN/ESPN2 Mountaineer Day
Sat 11/17 at Cincinnati  
Sat 11/24 CONNECTICUT  
Sat 12/1 PITTSBURGH ESPN/ESPN2  

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