Can West Virginia Crash the CFP? Grier Win the Heisman? You Bet

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 1:58 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2018 1:58 PM UTC

The West Virginia offense led by quarterback Will Grier has the pieces to contend for a national title. Expect 40-plus points regularly and video game numbers from the senior signal caller. Bettors need to jump on favorable Heisman Trophy and championship odds now.

Consider West Virginia a strong dark horse candidate to contend for the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. Head coach Dana Holgerson, an offense guru entering his eighth season in charge at Morgantown, rolls out his best points-producing unit yet on paper. Bet shops list the Mountaineers anywhere from +4000 to +6000 odds to win it all in the futures markets, third choice among Big 12 programs (Oklahoma, +2500; Texas, +4000) and roughly 20th overall. The fact is opposing defenses will be hard-pressed to slow the buckskin boys down thanks to quarterback Will Grier. The rising senior is a special talent that can take this team further than expected.

The former Mr. Football USA and Parade Magazine Player of the Year, who holds the national high school record tossing for 837 yards in a single game, produced at elite levels in 2017 prior to a season-ending broken finger injury in November. At the time, Grier was second in the country with 34 passing touchdowns and third with 3,490 passing yards. The offense also ranked seventh nationally in yards per game. The most impressive aspect is the fact it was Grier’s first season in Holgorsen’s unique Airraid, packaged-concept system. Experience, added maturity, and extra playmakers will make the unit even more dangerous this year.

Holgorsen's scheme, which combines run plays, screens, and quick strikes in addition to the traditional Airraid dropback passing game, is the perfect fit for the dual-threat Grier. Add a bevy of NFL-caliber playmakers, and it will not shock to see the Mountaineers top the nation in most offensive categories. Wide receiver David Sills V is the primary outlet. The junior wide out topped the nation with 18 touchdown receptions last year and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Rising senior Gary Jennings, a possession receiver, lines up opposite Sills. Jennings reeled in 97 receptions last season (1,096 yards), leading the Big 12 in catches. Alabama transfer T.J. Simmons, a sure-handed jump ball target, and former Miami tight end Jovan Haskins are new to the mix, giving Grier even more favorable options in the passing game. Frightening. Here's a little Grier-Sills spring practice hook-up proving the finger is a-ok:

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Will Grier to David Sills V. Where have we seen this before? #WVU

— Neel Madhavan (@theneelDP) March 3, 2018

Grier’s Heisman Trophy odds ooze value for a talent primed to put up video game numbers. He is currently the tenth betting choice at 5Dimes to win the coveted award at +2500 odds. Surprisingly, there are six other quarterbacks ahead of Grier with shorter prices, including Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (+1250), Georgia’s Jake Fromm (+1400), Arizona’s Khalil Tate (+1400), Oklahoma’s Kyle Murray (+2000), Michigan’s Shea Patterson (+2200) and Penn State’s Trace McSorley (+2500). If bettors are hesitant to lay money on the Mountaineers to win it all against the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, or other powerhouse programs, this gamble is a no-brainer if a Grier believer.

Here’s why West Virginia can go far: the Mountaineers are 44-13 SU (29-27-1 ATS) when scoring 30 points or more since Holgorson took charge in 2010. Last year, the team went 7-3 SU (5-4-1 ATS) in games where Grier tossed 10 passes or more. The offense averaged 39.0 points and 515.8 yards per game under these conditions. A litany of self-inflicted errors prevented the squad from winning more. The team ranked 122nd in the FBS with 9.8 yards per penalty and 107th in turnovers with 1.9 per contest. Improved discipline and a little better luck will turn close losses into victories with this set-up. Two of Grier’s three defeats when the main man under center were by one score.

Passing efficiency is the key factor for West Virginia to compete for a Big 12 title. Grier averaged an eye-catching 8.99 yards per passing attempt last season, bettering 7.0 in nine of the 10 abovementioned contests. The Mountaineers are just 27-27 SU in conference play under Holgersen, but when the offense clicks for 7.5 passing yards per attempt or better, the record improves to 19-5 SU and 17-7 ATS.

West Virginia opens the season against a rebuilding Tennessee squad at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. A tough out-of-conference matchup against the Ryan Finley-led N.C. State Wolfpack two weeks later pits two of the nation’s top signal callers against each other. Texas is the toughest conference road test, which includes stops at Iowa State, and Holgorsen’s former employers Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. A regular-season finale hosting Oklahoma is the strongest opponent visiting Morgantown, which also includes Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor and TCU. Don’t be shocked to see Grier lead the Mountaineers to and win the Big 12 Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 1. This team has the pieces to crash the CFP and Grier to win the Heisman. Bet on it.

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