Big 12 new kids to square off
MORGANTOWN — This is the week that the two new kids on the Big 12 block square off.
For No. 23 West Virginia (5-2, 2-2 Big 12), a 3 p.m. game Saturday at Mountaineer Field against TCU (5-3, 2-3) is yet another in a series of new experiences against new opponents.
For the Horned Frogs, though, facing a new opponent is a bit different, even though it's their first season in the Big 12.
TCU isn't playing entirely new teams week in and week out. The school was a longtime member of the Southwest Conference, which included all of the current Big 12 teams except West Virginia, and TCU has continued to play many of them periodically as non-conference foes.
"Everybody's a new opponent for us,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday. "[The Big 12] is probably a little bit more familiar for TCU's players because they grew up with a lot of the kids that are playing in the Big 12, where it's a little different for us being a complete outsider.
"From a coaching standpoint we understand what it is. But from a player standpoint and a program standpoint we're learning more about the Big 12 each and every week.''
What the Mountaineers have learned the last two weeks, of course, is that the Big 12 can be brutal.
After beginning the season 5-0 and climbing to No. 5 in the national polls, West Virginia was outscored 108-24 by Texas Tech and Kansas State.
Holgorsen, though, would prefer to look at his team's record on the whole and not just in a two-week window. On the whole, 5-2 and a spot in the Top 25 isn't bad.
"There's a whole bunch of good 5-2 football teams out there,'' Holgorsen said. "Just because we've dropped the last two doesn't mean we're a bad football team.''
Here's something that Big 12 teams over the years probably never expected to be concerned with as they prepared for a game: The effects of a hurricane hitting the Atlantic coast.
But with West Virginia a travel destination now, it's a concern for TCU.
"We're monitoring it right now,'' Holgorsen said late Monday morning of the so-called Frankenstorm that at that very time was beginning to affect the Northeast.
By the time Saturday's game rolls around, the storm should be long gone. If it does affect the Morgantown area, it won't be anything close to what's happening in New Jersey and New York.
Still, it's a disruption.
"It's supposed to be all blown out of here by Friday, but it's probably going to affect our preparation a little bit,'' Holgorsen said. "But we're ahead of schedule right now because we had the off week and we were able to [introduce] what some of the [TCU] looks are going to be.''
While the storm isn't likely to create great havoc here, West Virginia does have a number of players from areas that it has affected or will affect.
"We've got a lot of kids from that area, a lot of kids from New Jersey and Baltimore and Washington,'' Holgorsen said. "So we're monitoring what's going on there and their families to make sure that everything's fine. Our thoughts and prayers are with that part of the country.''
For the second week in a row, West Virginia will have to wait to find out when its next game will be played.
Just as was the case with the TCU game, the Big 12's television partners, Fox and ABC/ESPN, have chosen to use a six-day window to select game times for three of the league's marquee matchups on Nov. 10. The networks usually are required to make decisions about kickoff times and television coverage two weeks in advance, but have four six-day windows they can exercise. This is the third they have used it.
The three games the networks are holding are WVU at Oklahoma State, Baylor at Oklahoma and Kansas State at TCU. They will be played at either noon or 3:30 p.m. on ABC or one of the ESPN platforms, or 3, 3:30 or 7 p.m. on Fox.
The games won't be placed in a time slot or on a network until after this Saturday's games.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.