Week 1 West Virginia vs. Penn State matchup ranked as must-watch non-conference game

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According to Brad Crawford of 247Sports, West Virginia's looming season opening matchup with rival Penn State is amongst the Top 10 must-watch non-conference games that will take place during the 2024 regular season, and one of just four that made the list from Week 1 of the season.

The second scheduled battle between the two is tentatively scheduled for August 31st, and was ranked in the tenth spot on Crawford's list. This year, the Mountaineers get the opportunity to host the Nittany Lions after a 38-15 loss at Beaver Stadium in State College.

West Virginia will be looking to put their name in the mix as serious contenders for both the Big 12 and the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff as they attempt to ride the momentum from a 9-4 season capped with a bowl win in 2023.

The Mountaineers return a number of weapons from last season's team and have been mentioned in the mix of potential challengers for the crown in the Big 12 during their first season following the exodus of Oklahoma and Texas. A win against this Penn State team could go a long way in proving that the Mountaineers could be a national threat.

Defeating this Penn State team would offer so much credence to WVU as a viable upper-echelon team as Penn State enters 2024 in the same space they have occupied often over their history -- a perennial Big 10 contender and a program within nearly everyone's way-too-early Top 25 rankings.

The Nittany Lions enter off a three-loss season which ended in a New Year's Six Bowl Appearance. Their finish last season would have earned an appearance in the expanded playoff format if it had been in-place, and their three losses all occurred to teams finishing within the Top 10 of both the AP and Coaches Poll.

In a Big 10 with the likes of Oregon, USC, and Washington joining the top-tier of programs, non-conference excellence could go a long way in determining an at-large bid for Penn State in the postseason if they fail to capture a league title in a loaded conference. They can ill-afford a loss to a Big 12 program to open the season, and they understand how tough an environment Mylan Puskar Satdium in Morgantown will be -- so fans can rest assured Penn State will come prepared.

Combine that with a likely pair of starting quarterbacks in Drew Allar and Garrett Greene that return from last season and are both appearing on lists as top quarterbacks within their respective conferences, and the action between Penn State and WVU is sure to be thrilling in Week 1.