Here is a quick primer on West Virginia's first season in the Big 12:
Last Year: 10-3, including a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Coach: Dana Holgorsen (second season, 10-3)
Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (6).
Outlook: Ranked in the top 15 in preseason polls, the Mountaineers, coached by Holgorsen, the former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator, could be one of the favorites in their debut season in the Big 12.
West Virginia will be led by quarterback Geno Smith (4,385 passing yards, 31 TDs). A senior, Smith broke nearly all of Marc Bulger's single-season school passing records.
Three standout wide receivers — Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and Ivan McCartney — combined for 222 receptions for 3,050 receiving yards and 23 touchdown catches.
The top five defensive players were seniors. With six returning starters on defense, it won't be a rebuilding project but the Mountaineers need some players to emerge to prevent being forced to win shootouts.
* Non-conference: West Virginia will be heavily favored in all three non-league games (Marshall, James Madison and Maryland). None are on the road.
* Soft finish: If the Mountaineers can stay in the race the first two months they could be in good shape. West Virginia closes league play against Iowa State and Kansas, which will probably be picked ninth and 10th.
* Key stretch: Following a Big 12 opener at home against Baylor, back-to-back road games at Texas and Texas Tech will set the tone. But the Mountaineers' tell-tale stretch is in November. Following a bye week, WVU will host TCU on Nov. 3 followed by a high profile game at Oklahoma State and a home game against Oklahoma.
By Mike Baldwin