MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia still has three games to play in the 2013 football season, but already the 2014 schedule is complete, and it sets about as well as could be expected.
The non-conference portion, including the opener against Alabama at the Georgia Dome on Aug. 30, is dispensed with before the opening of Big 12 play.
There is a bye week before conference play begins with back-to-back home games against Oklahoma and Kansas.
The Mountaineers are never on the road in consecutive weeks.
And unlike this season, no Big 12 team on WVU's schedule has more time to prepare than does WVU. The Mountaineers will, however, have extra preparation time for one game, Oklahoma. The Sooners play Tulsa the week before opening league play while West Virginia is idle.
There is also a return of Thursday night football at Mountaineer Field. The home game with Kansas State is set for Thursday, Nov. 20, the week before Thanksgiving. Both teams are off the previous weekend.
"The 2014 football schedule has an excellent mix of home and away games that our fans will enjoy," WVU athletic director Oliver Luck said in a prepared statement. "Starting the season against Alabama will provide excitement in the state all summer. A road game at Maryland is an easy drive for our fans before we welcome the likes of Oklahoma, Kansas, Baylor, TCU and Kansas State to Morgantown. Overall, with our non-conference schedule coupled with the rigors of the Big 12, every week will provide an exciting matchup."
The non-conference part of the schedule includes an FCS opponent at home in Towson (Md.) and the second straight trip to Maryland. Towson is the team that beat Connecticut on the opening week this season.
The back-to-back road games at Maryland have been planned all along to balance both teams' home and road schedules. West Virginia is scheduled to host the Terps in both 2015 and 2016.
Next season is also one of the alternating years when West Virginia has more Big 12 home games (five) than road trips (four). The home games in addition to Towson, Oklahoma, Kansas and Kansas State are against Baylor and TCU. The Big 12 road trips are to Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas and Iowa State.
"This definitely will be the most challenging schedule we have had since I have been here and probably in a long time," coach Dana Holgorsen said, also in a statement. "Starting off with Alabama, the two-time national champions, will be a great opportunity for our football team. Having already gone through two years in the Big 12 and playing in all the venues in the league, our players and fans know first-hand how strong the league is and the excitement it presents."
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.
2014 WVU football schedule
Day Date Opponent Time
Sat. Aug. 30 Alabama^ TBA
Sat. Sept. 6 TOWSON TBA