I like WEST VIRGINIA +7 here for several reasons.
West Virginia is undervalued.
West Virginia is coming off a poor season and continues to lose transfers at a head-spinning rate, which makes sense when you think about it considering the culture shock for recruits who signed up to play for Dana Holgorsen, and ended up with Neal Brown, two coaches with competently opposite personalities and leadership styles. Personally, I'm not a fan of Brown. He has a holier-than-thou type attitude, which makes him tough to like. Couple that with the hypocrisy of employing Vic Koenning, who was Brown's defensive coordinator at multiple stops until he was forced out at West Virginia for a history of player mistreatment, and it makes it even tougher.
Now, of course, winning games trumps personality issues, but the problem is Brown hasn't been doing much winning. The supposed galaxy brain whiz kid who was slaying giants at Troy is 17-18 in his three seasons at West Virginia. And the wins have been mostly due to the defense, while Brown has been in charge of the offense. Here's the thing, though, Brown has completely thrown in the towel. He has brought in or has been forced to bring in, an outside offensive coordinator who has been given full autonomy.
Enter Graham Harrell. Harrell was the offensive coordinator at USC for the last three years and is a big upgrade over Brown. And though Brown has been a failure as an offensive mind at West Virginia, he appears to be a hard worker, and this has paid off in recruiting. Brown has recruited well, which means Harrell will have talent to work with. West Virginia will have problems with depth due to all the transfers leaving, but this is week one, so we don't have to be overly concerned with that.
Harrell didn't come to West Virginia alone, though. He brought quarterback J.T. Daniels with him. Daniels is a former 5-star recruit and was ranked as the number one overall recruit in his class by Rivals. He is a huge upgrade over Jarret Doege. Daniels played for Harrell and his air raid system at USC in 2018 and for one game in 2019 before tearing his ACL and transferring to Georgia, where he was a pre-season Heisman candidate before being injured again. When a new offensive coordinator takes over a program, there is usually an adjustment period and growing pains, but I do not see that being the case at West Virginia, considering the history between Harrell and Daniels, who is now healthy.
West Virginia doesn't return many starters, but they do where it matters: in the trenches. West Virginia only returns three starters on defense, but two of them are on the d-line, and one of those d-linemen is Dante Stills, who is a first-team All-Big 12 pre-season defensive selection. On offense, West Virginia only brings back six starters, but five of those include their entire offensive line, which Neal Brown has been focused on rebuilding ever since he arrived on campus.
And while West Virginia is undervalued, Pitt is overvalued.
Pitt is coming off a successful season, but it can be attributed to a generational talent in Kenny Pickett, who has moved on to the NFL. Pitt also has a new offensive coordinator, but unlike West Virginia's, theirs doesn't come to town with their own five-star quarterback. The new OC is Frank Cignetti Jr. is and he is a downgrade from Mark Whipple. Expect growing pains and miscues from Pitt's offense early this season. Also, Cignetti is run first type, which plays into West Virginia's strength on the d-line.
And then there is this: Pitt's new transfer starting QB is Kedon Slovis (assuming he wins the job), from USC, who played under offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. Slovis transferred because of the coaching changes at USC. If anyone knows how to shut down Slovis, it is Harrell, especially considering Slovis is playing his first game with a new team.
I see clear value on West Virginia at this number.
OFFICIAL RECOMMENDATION: WEST VIRGINIA +7