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Big 12 Football Power Rankings | #9 West Virginia Mountaineers

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The margin between my No. 9 and No. 8 teams continues to narrow after weighing the pros and cons of each squad. However, the West Virginia Mountaineers check in at number nine head into 2014.

9. West Virginia Mountaineers

2013 Finish - 4-8 (2-7)

After losing an explosive offense and players like Geno Smith and Tavon Austion, the Mountaineers have struggled to find consistent production. Stepping in to fill the void, WVU pulled in Clint Trickett and Charles Sims by way of transfer allowing them to find a small bit of identity. Now, heading into 2014, fans will once again look to replace possibly the best player on the roster as Sims is now in the NFL. But that's only half the story as the staff is tasked with replacing three offensive linemen as well.

Make no mistake, Dreamius Smith has potential but it is always tough to replace a 1,000+ yard rusher.

Looking at the 26.3 points per game in 2013, it is unlikely that this team can replicate those numbers. Aside from the aforementioned losses, the glaring issue from a year ago was a lack of consistency from the receiver position. The woes lead to an often anemic offense. Can Mario Alford and Kevin White provide stability in the passing game?

With that said, WVU returns plenty of experience on defense although they are suffering the loss of two senior starters. Expect the defense to be stronger than it was during the 2013 campaign. But, with the only conference wins coming against TCU and Oklahoma St. the outlook is vague. How does a team that provides Kansas with a win down a top conference team like the cowboys?

Regardless, the deciding factor in West Virginia landing at the nine spot is the inconsistencies.