PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Patrick's assessment of the opening game win proved the most accurate. He was the only person to get within ten points of the final score, which gives him an early edge in the competition.
There are no real gaffes to point out in the week one selections. Nailing the final score in contests like that can be difficult, and in the end, it's all about the wins and losses, as Andy proved last year in sweeping to the title. Still, seven panelists missed by more than 20 points, giving them ample motivation to sarpen their margins this week
But before we move on, is everybody picking out of the same hat this week? There are enough predictions of 31- and 33-point games for WVU to float a boat.
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 9|
The intangibles in this game all seem to favor Marshall. Sure, Joan C. Edwards Stadium's capacity is less than half of what will await the Mountaineers when they next hit the road to play LSU in Baton Rouge, but the Thundering Herd partisans that will pack the stands on Friday night will be highly amped-up in anticipation of their program's biggest home game since 2007 (and, if negotiations on renewing the Friends of Coal Bowl series come to an impasse, perhaps MU's biggest home game for the foreseeable future).
It's Doc Holliday's first home game as Marshall's head coach, and it just so happens to come in a Friday night, nationally-televised clash against a team Herd fans see as their biggest rival. If that wasn't enough, the Herd will be debuting a bevy of upgrades to the football stadium -- two new video scoreboards, "ribbon" boards, decorative wraps that will line the stadium's walls, and a beefed-up sound system. You think the folks down in Huntington might be a bit excited?
Problem for those fans is that all of the tangible factors that will have an impact on the game favor the Mountaineers. Simply put: Bill Stewart's squad is faster, stronger and more talented. In the end, those things will be more than enough to allow West Virginia to overcome the only other Football Bowl Subdivision team within the state's borders and move to 10-0 in the all-time series.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-13|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 13|
I've always felt that, eventually, Marshall will get a game from WVU in this seven-game series. I mean sooner or later it's bound to happen, right? A perfect storm of everything going wrong for the Mountaineers, and everything going right for Marshall?
Not this year. One thing I learned while coaching at Arkansas Tech was that nothing should get a team more fired up than going into a hostile road environment with a target on your back. Great teams feed off of that, and if WVU is indeed a great team this season, it will do the same. Nowhere else on the Mountaineers' schedule will they encounter as much venom and disdain as they will Friday night in Huntington. Shouldn't take much to get excited for this one.
On the field, Marshall will have no answer for Noel Devine. I'm a little bit hesitant about Geno Smith -- or "Jeans" as the guy behind me at Mountaineer Field kept calling him on Saturday -- making his first road start, but he has enough weapons around him to make it work. That, and nothing I saw from Marshall against Ohio State puts any fear whatsoever in me.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-3|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 14|
|Every time that West Virginia and Marshall play it proves to be a well-played, emotion-filled game. This season the stakes will be even higher as the Mountaineers will be facing off against former coach Doc Holiday and several of WVU's former graduate assistants. The familiarity between the two teams will no doubt make for an interesting match-up. I hope to see the Mountaineers iron out some of the offensive wrinkles that they showed in the season opener. I foresee this being a well played game by the Thundering Herd as they try to redeem themselves after their showing against Ohio State. Although I think this will be a close, well-played game, I'm going with West Virginia.|
|Pick: West Virginia 21-14|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 16|
If I ever pick Marshall to beat West Virginia, please call the FBI. A
creature from Mars -- or some delusional Herd fan, I can't tell the
difference -- has taken over my body. Calling this series a rivalry is
a complete joke. To make a game a rivalry, both teams have to do one
thing every once in a blue moon -- win. Marshall hasn't done that once,
and Doc Holliday-- or Butch Cassidy or Billy the Kid, for that matter
-- isn't going to change that this year.
The home field advantage -- you know, the one where Marshall packs the place for the Mountaineers and then hands out tickets on the street to get the stadium 75 percent full every other week -- won't make a bit of difference, either. West Virginia University is the only big-time college football program in the Mountain State, and the Mountaineers will prove it once again on Friday.
By the way, this night is supposed to be for high school football. Then again, maybe that's why Marshall's doing it.
|Pick: West Virginia 33-10|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 21|
I hate this game. I hate the politics of how it came to be. I hate the trash talking. I hate the forced "rivalry." I hate everything and anything to do with this game. WVU has everything to lose and absolutely, positively nothing to gain from playing marshall. I know, I know, some of you in the Kanawha Valley really like this game because you get sick and tired of the nonsense and enjoy putting the beatdown on the martians, hoping it will shut them up for a few days. It won't, and you should have figured that out by now.
I get the distinct feeling that Bill Stewart hates this game almost as much as I do -- or, at least, wants to beat marshall just as much as I do -- and has made his feelings clear to his team. Stew, I know you're a nice guy and all that, but if you can, please run up the score as much as possible. Oliver Luck, if you're reading this, I encourage you not to renew the series under any circumstances, and if you could also get us out of the basketball game as well, go for it.
|Pick: West Virginia 35-7|
|Keenan Cummings||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 21|
After a slow start in the opener, the Mountaineer offense got it rolling and racked up 400 total yards against the Chanticleers while the defense pitched a shutout on the way to a 31-0 win.
Now, we move on to Doc Holiday and his merry Herd. A Friday night game in the Joan will be rocking for sure, but do I have a "herd on" for the new regime in Huntington?
West Virginia is more talented in every phase of the game, and should win this game going away. Sure there will be some scares early on as emotion comes into play, but hopefully this the last time we're forced to play under Friday Night Lights in the green and white clad Buffalo City.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-14|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 24|
Upsets happen each week in college football, some minor, some major, but they are a common occurrence. If a perennially superior team plays a supposedly inferior team year in and year out, eventually the "inferior" team is going to win. Ask the 2007 Notre Dame team that lost to Navy, or the 0-6 Temple team that knocked off #5 ranked Virginia Tech in 1998. How about the four-win Stanford team beating USC, a 41-point favorite? Do I even need to mention a certain 13-9 loss?
When this series was first forced upon us by our fine governor, I thought, o.k., we'll probably win six games and drop one to the Herd and move on. Well, if Marshall is going to get that one win, its going to be this year. This is our last game in Huntington, the Herd has no less than five former Mountaineers on their coaching staff and finally the Mountaineers start an inexperienced quarterback and have an unproven offensive line.
This is Marshall's BCS game, and to our players is just another warm up game for teams like Maryland, LSU and the Big East foes to come.
|Pick: Marshall 24-23|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 25|
|THE game that is not a rivalry in the minds of many fans, but it is THE one game on the schedule that no fan wants to see in the loss column. Add to that a little drama, such as the departure of our de facto #2 coach to our non-rival, sprinkle in a Friday night game on ESPN and you have the makings of a very interesting game. It's Super Bowl Friday for Marshall and they will be ready to play, but the Mountaineers should keep pace and take the game over in the second half.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-17|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 27|
While most would think it would be difficult to find fault with 31-0 victories, the Mountaineers looked anything but sharp in their opener against an also-ran from the Big South (FCS) Conference. One thing is for sure, the Mountaineers had better play better on offense in Huntington, or the natives are going to be coming out of their very thin skin.
Personally, if I were the coach of a team that was going to play another team that was coached by someone who was rumored to be pitching NCAA violations for my team to the media shortly after his departure, I'd be doing everything in my power to hit triple digits on the scoreboard. If the offensive line can make some holes for Noel, and give Geno time to throw, this will be a rout from the start. Otherwise, WVU will eventually pull away, despite the raucous crowd in Little Detroit.
|Pick: West Virginia 37-10|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 28|
|Eventually Doc will stock the Marshall cupboard with talented players, because he's been able to recruit good athletes everywhere he's coached. But that takes time, and the fact is, heading into the 2010 meeting, WVU has more talent than Marshall, and the team with the most talent wins a vast majority of the time.|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-13|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 1-0||Pt Diff: 29|
|There's an uncertain amount of adjustment that accompanies any coaching change. Marshall is dealing with variations in alignment and approach to the game and must play a more talented foe in its third year under essentially the same staff. That's a sizeable edge for West Virginia, and it should be able to take advantage. The Mountaineers showed very little of their schemes in a solid win over Coastal Carolina last week, and are not likely to allow the same unblocked access to the backfield that it allowed the Chanticleers. Look for better overall execution from WVU up front on offense and a decent mix of run and pass to utilize the entire field. Marshall will be amped for the game, and the Friday night kick should aid the Herd. If West Virginia doesn't turn the ball over and executes reasonably well, the athletic and talent edge should carry it to a 2-0 start.|
|Pick: West Virginia 27-17|