Can West Virginia make a title run?

The Mountaineers' offense should be elite; can the defense keep up?

Originally Published: May 28, 2012
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Tavon AustinRandy Litzinger/Icon SMITavon Austin and the Mountaineers' receiving corps should be one of the nation's best.

ESPN Insider's "20 teams that can win it all" series is previewing each of the top 20 teams in Brian Fremeau's five-year program metric, with the help of ESPN's Stats & Information group (for a full explanation and links to all of the previews as they are published, click here). This is the entry for West Virginia.

On the surface, the initial season in Dana Holgorsen's tenure as the West Virginia Mountaineers head coach lived up to expectations. His team won 10 games and a share of the Big East championship, and topped off the 2011 campaign with a 70-33 win over the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl.

As great as those accomplishments are, the season in some ways wasn't as impressive as it looks at first glance. The LSU Tigers crushed the Mountaineers by a 47-21 score and then West Virginia ended up on the wrong end of a 49-23 thrashing on the road against the Syracuse Orange. The Mountaineers also lost to a mediocre Louisville Cardinals squad two weeks after that, and won their last three Big East games by a total of seven points.

In order to get West Virginia to BCS title game status, Holgorsen will need to lead a team more like the one that closed out the 2011 season rather than the one that struggled through much of the year.

So what are the odds that he will be able to achieve this goal? Let's take a look at some of the Mountaineers' pros and cons to find out.

Why West Virginia can win it all