Almost Heaven, West Virginia

West Virginia has found a new home in the Big 12 after years in the Big East.

The Big 12 conference has undergone a radical makeover in the last two years losing Colorado, Texas A&M, and Missouri for the Pac 12 and SEC, respectively.

Fans of the conference will remember the head coach patrolling the sidelines as he is no stranger to the Big 12.

Dana Holgerson enters his second season at West Virginia after serving as offensive coordinator for Oklahoma

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State and Texas Tech where he rewrote the record books at those programs. He also spent time on the staff at Houston where he worked with Case Keenum on his way toward becoming the all-time leading passer in NCAA history.

Coaching Keenum, Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Hunter, and Michael Crabtree, respectively en route to their NFL careers has given Holgerson a reputation as an offensive genius.

The addition of the Mountaineers from West Virginia will bring a high powered passing attack to the Big 12 led by quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

In his first season in Morgantown under Holgerson, Smith passed for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns compiling a 152.6 quarterback rating.  Smith certainly will be on many Heisman watch lists as a result of the eye-popping statistics he will put up this season.

Bailey and Austin combined for 2,365 yards and 20 ouchdowns on 173 receptions.

Austin is one of the premiere big play threats in the nation and his separation skills are on par with some of the best at the next level.  He is always open and his ability to run routes puts defensive backs in a frenzy trying to contain the speedy receiver.

Bailey has tremendous ball skills, even when he is double teamed; he finds a way to come down with the ball.  He makes  ridiculous over-the-shoulder catches look routine with his ability to weave in and out of traffic.

West Virginia boasts perhaps the best passing trio in the nation behind USC who has Robert Woods and Marquis Lee catching balls from Matt Barkley.

Entering the season with a #11 ranking in the nation places them second in conference to Oklahoma, who is the #4 team in the nation according to the AP.  Oklahoma has a history of self-destructing in the last couple years under quarterback Landry Jones, so a shot at the conference title is well within reach.

West Virginia closed out last season with a 70-33 annihilation of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, but this season the Mountaineers may find themselves sneaking into the BCS Championship game.

If that happens, well then that would be almost Heaven for West Virginia.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com Wednesday mornings from 8-10.  View his show’s website here.

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