Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

July 12, 2014

CFB, Week 5: A good chance to see the local teams

BLUEFIELD — Week 5 of the 2014 college football season will be a good opportunity for local fans to catch a local game.

Both West Virginia and Marshall have the week off, and Virginia Tech might as well be.

In reality, the Hokies are in action, but Virginia Tech will host Mid-American Conference foe Western Michigan, a perfect homecoming guest. In three previous meetings, the Hokies have outscored the Broncos 124-0.

Virginia will also host Kent State from the MAC.

Meanwhile, Concord will be hosting West Liberty, looking for what could be a fourth straight win to open the season, while Bluefield will welcome Cumberland, Tenn., hoping to snap what will be a 26-game winless skid unless the Rams can win one of their first four games.

Concord will be playing its third game at Callaghan Stadium in its opening four contests, which is certainly an advantage for the Mountain Lions.

West Liberty has endured a pair of losing seasons over the last three years, a rarity for a program that won 11 games in 2009 and led the nation in scoring and total offense in 2009 and '10, the first NCAA Division II team to do so.

Over the last three years, which has included 1, 6 and 3 wins, the Hilltoppers have lost all three games to Concord, having been held to a field goal in each of the last two. By contrast, West Liberty had gone 4-1 in the previous five meetings, scoring 45.2 points in those games.

While Concord did lose lots off its defense from last season, the Hilltoppers averaged just 13.4 points a game last year, and finished with a five-game losing skid. With this year starting with Mountain East power Shepherd, a new season could begin slow for West Liberty.

Concord will be seeking better play from the quarterback position early in the season, but the running game will be in good hands, with Calvinaugh Jones compiling 1,036 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He got 132 of those against the Hilltoppers.

This one belongs to the Mountain Lions.

Prediction: Concord (4-0 in 2014).

It is difficult to know what to expect from the Rams by the fifth game of the season, especially with a deep recruiting class with several athletes who will have to contribute early and often.

In fact, the roster for Bluefield isn't even up on its website as this is being written. Ordell Walker and staff are working to improve retention and bring a winning program to the campus, but this is going to take time.

This will be Bluefeld's first trip back to Mitchell Stadium after three straight weeks on the road, including a trip to FCS Presbyterian in South Carolina.

Bluefield has played Cumberland twice since bringing back its program in 2012, losing 40-10 and 49-0. The Bulldogs will begin the first of four straight road games against the Rams.

Life in the Mid-South Conference is never easy, widely considered the top NAIA conference in the nation. Georgetown has long been a dominant force, and Cumberlands — not to be confused with Cumberland — played for the national title last December.

While Bluefield will begin to show progress as the season continues, the Rams won't be able to topple the Bulldogs on homecoming Saturday. Bluefield has lost its previous two festive games, 47-13 to Lindsey Wilson in 2012 and a 40-21 setback to Bethel last year.

Prediction: Cumberland. (Bluefield drops to 0-5 in 2014)

OK, miracles can happen, but Western Michigan has lost all three games without scoring a point against Virginia Tech, including a 63-0 decision in 2004. In addition, the Broncos are 1-12 in the last five years against non-conference foes on the road.

Call this an uphill climb. Western Michigan will enter its second season under 33-year-old P.J. Fleck, who was born the same year Frank Beamer took over at — not Virginia Tech — but at Murray State.

Western Michigan, the former college home for a few years of Bluefield's own Ansel Ponder, won just one game last year, and that was by one point. The Broncos also travel to Purdue and Idaho before visiting Blacksburg.

This will be homecoming for the Hokies, who are 40-1 in their 41 games against non-conference foes, and that is likely to improve by one win in this one.

Defensively, the Hokies will be potent, especially against the pass, but the question is the offense. That won't be an issue in this one.

However, it will be the following week when Virginia Tech leaves Lane Stadium for the first time in three weeks and visits North Carolina in a key ACC Coastal Division game.

Prediction: Virginia Tech (4-1 in 2014).

The MAC attack will also converge on Charlottesville, with Virginia hosting Kent State, in what will the Cavaliers' fourth of five home tilts in their first six games.

Virginia is 10-2-1 against teams from the Mid-American Conference, but has lost two of the last three, including a 21-point setback last year to Ball State, with the Cardinals putting up 47 points on the Cavaliers.

Lose this one and the heat will only get more intense on Virginia head coach Mike London, who has proven to be a good recruiter, but has struggled turning that talent into wins.

Kent State, which is in its second season under Paul Haynes, dropped to 4-8 last year after being 11-3 the previous year. The Golden Flashes have won just two of its last 16 non-league games, both of which came in 2012 against No. 18 Rutgers and Army.

The Golden Flashes, who will only leave Ohio three times this year, will be at Ohio State on Sept. 13, and face Virginia after a bye week.

Virginia absolutely must win this game, and here is thinking they will. Virginia has the seventh rated schedule in the nation, having already played UCLA, Louisville and BYU prior to this one.

If these weekly projections are correct — and they will continue through August — the Cavaliers will match their win total from 2013 in this one.

Prediction: Virginia. (2-3 in 2014).

All six regional teams will be in action on the first weekend of October, which will be the sixth week of the college football season.

Virginia Tech will visit North Carolina in a key ACC game, while West Virginia will host Big 12 foe Kansas on what will be homecoming in Morgantown. Virginia will entertain Pittsburgh, while Marshall opens Conference USA play at league newcomer Old Dominion.

Locally, Bluefield will host Bethel, while Concord will hit the road at Fairmont State.

—bwoodson@bdtonline.com

/ Twitter @bdtwoodson

 

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