Fearless Picks: WVU - Maryland

The resumption of the cross-mountain tussle with the Terrapins has our panel looking for a relatively close contest.

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

Andy missed last week's score by just four points. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong winner. So, Matt's seven-point miss takes the weekly prize, and also vaults him into up the standings. Current site stalwarts Patrick Southern and Taylor Jones are atop the leaderboard heading into week three.


NOSE PICKING

Can't fault Andy for his pick of the Herd, as he narrowly missed taking another early lead in the contest. However, as he noted after the game, he'll willingly trade a loss in the contest for a Mountaineer win.


Patrick Southern Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 24
If there's anything we can glean from the first two games of the season, it is that this WVU team is difficult to get a grasp of.

It might be tough to get much out of the third game of the season, as well, because the opponent is similarly difficult to gauge at this point. Maryland has beaten one team it completely outmanned (Morgan State) and another that runs a system so unique (Navy) that it is difficult to take much away from the results of the games and apply them to the rest of the season. The Terrapins could be much-improved this season, or they could prove to be an ACC bottom-feeder again. Only time will tell.

That makes putting together a prediction for Saturday's game exponentially more difficult. But Maryland is too susceptible to the running game to allow an upset to happen. WVU knows the weaknesses of the Terrapins' defense in certain areas, as Navy showed with its triple-option attack. The home squad will exploit those same weaknesses in a different way, using some of its spread-option principles.

Pick: West Virginia 27-13
 
Taylor Jones Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 24
I'm not going to lie. I'm not welcoming Maryland back onto the Mountaineers' schedule with open arms. While there have been some great games between West Virginia and the Terps, like the Rasheed Marshall pass to the late Chris Henry for the victory in overtime in 2004 (still one of my all time favorite plays), Maryland has always seemed to make quite the game out of playing the Mountaineers. The Terps have proved to be quite the pest in years past. I think the reunion between the two teams will prove to be the Mountaineers' biggest test thus far in the season and I think that the loss of Brandon Hogan will affect the Mountaineer defense as he has proven to be the glue of the ‘D' early on. However, I hope to see Geno Smith continue to grow as a quarterback as he showed against Marshall. As I hope to be saying throughout this season, West Virginia just has too many offensive threats to be able to be stopped.
Pick: West Virginia 24-10
 
Keenan Cummings Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 35
For about 50 minutes last Friday it looked bleak for the Mountaineers. Unable to put any type of consistent scoring drive together, it looked like the Herd was finally going to capture that elusive triumph over WVU. But something happened. A team and a quarterback grew up before our eyes and led a miraculous fourth quarter come back.

Now on to the Fridge and his Terps. Maryland has shown improvement over last year's squad, but I still expect the Mountaineers to take care of business in a tough, hard fought game. This should be another chance for Geno Smith to gain some more confidence before the team makes its awaited trip to Death Valley.

Pick: West Virginia 31-17
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 36
Wow. That was close. The crow was on the grill heating up, being prepared for my consumption. I can't tell you how nice it felt to throw the crow into the trash and dine on a Marco steak instead. This week, though, I'm going to be a little more conservative.

However, after taking a closer look at the Marshall game, I'm not sure the Mountaineers played as poorly as most thought. The offense was moving, and aside from a couple big plays, the defense looked fantastic. There were just a few fluke plays that made the game closer than it ever should have been, and WVU has to learn to finish drives. I think Geno became a true quarterback in the fourth quarter, though, and Maryland will pay the price. It's Ralph Friedgen that has been feasting on crow, and everything else, in recent years, after his derogatory comments about the Mountaineers early in his career. He better take one last shot, because a loss Saturday in Morgantown will send him one step closer to the door.

Pick: West Virginia 27-15
 
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 36
The match-ups, for the most part, benefit West Virginia. The major issue is that the ones going for Maryland -- kickoff and punt return -- can create sizeable yardage and scoring differences. The Mountaineers must cover well and need to better field punts this week to keep from getting pinned deep in their own end. WVU should be able to hold down Maryland's rushing average and bother its signalcaller. On the flip side, Maryland's defensive line isn't great, creating a push up front, and West Virginia has better playmakers in the backfield. The Terps will need some plays to go their way, but this isn't a blowout going away.
Pick: West Virginia <28-20/font>
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 38
Seems like an eternity ago that Fridge Fever was sweeping College Park. Now, the Fridge is working at a feverish pace just to get another season on the sidelines of his alma mater, what with the recent drop off in wins and a new athletic director rolling into town. This will be Friedgen's first meeting with the Mountaineers under the direction of Bill Stewart, but methinks he'll still have a pretty good handle on what his opponent's trying to do.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have any transfers from Morgantown with their playbook in tow. Ever since Scott McBrien sailed off into the sunset with a fourth throttling of his former school in three seasons, the Mountaineers have dominated the series. Until Maryland shows me they're up to par with WVU, I'll cast my lot with the home team in this one.

Pick: West Virginia 27-21
 
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 40
After games like the Mountaineers went through last Friday evening, you wonder how that amazing come from behind win affects the following week's game. Was what we witnessed (one of the most amazing 8:28 minutes of regulation) a moment in time where this team grew and came together with a solid, single-minded purpose? Or was it an emotionally draining effort that leaves you flat, tired and emotionally deflated? I look at this team and see so much potential... much of what we saw on display last weekend. From Stedman Bailey's clutch catches, to Tavon Austin's blazing speed, to Brantwon Bowser's massive hit in overtime... I see a team growing in confidence and I see a team uniting. Mark your calendars, for on September 10, 2010, Geno Smith's legend began. Look for that legend to grow this Saturday as we renew our border rivalry with Maryland in a hard fought game, but one in which the Mountaineers will prevail.
Pick: West Virginia 31-17
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 43
I don't know what it means in relation to this to 2010 game, but in 11 of the past 12 WVU-Maryland battles, the winner has scored at least 30 points. The season is still young, and both teams still have plenty of question marks. On paper, the Mountaineers have fewer questions than do the Terrapins, and WVU figures to take advantage of those as the rivalry resumes.
Pick: West Virginia 24-17
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 46
The deep-seated animosity that marked the coaching contests between Ralph Friedgren and a certain former Mountaineer head coach Who Shall Not Be Named has subsided somewhat under the new regime -- after all, nobody hates Bill Stewart except a certain element of the WVU "fan" base. However, Maryland's Fridge is on the hot seat following a disastrous 2009 campaign and a fairly mediocre record ever since Scotty McBrien graduated. Fridge has to pull out all the stops this year in order to keep his job from melting away.

The Twerps, oops, sorry, Terps feature a strong return game and a fairly impressive offensive backfield. However: Noel Devine and Jock Sanders they are not. This will be the toughest test the Mountaineers have faced to date, but superior talent almost always prevails.

On a personal note, as a former long-time resident of Washington DC, I'm very glad to see the Terrapins back on the schedule and pleased at the announcement of the series extension. This is a great rivalry for WVU, especially given the huge Mountaineer alumni and fan base in the National Capital area.

Pick: West Virginia 24-17
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 2-0 Pt Diff: 51
Win the game in the trenches, win the game. Continue to sample the comfort of the grass and this game will not be fun. Maryland brings the 106th ranked rushing defense in the country to Morgantown. This number is skewed a bit because of their game with Navy, but it also includes an 85-total yard game against Morgan State. If the Mountaineers can't muster a running game against this squad, it doesn't bode well for the following weeks.

Geno Smith emerged as a true star by directing the Mountaineer comeback last week and the receiving corps appears to have several options to choose from, which is exactly what the Mountaineer running game needs to thrive. The loss of Brandon Hogan is a big blow to the Mountaineer defense, but the Terps 116th ranked passing offense doesn't appear to have the firepower to take advantage.

Pick: West Virginia 34-17
 
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 1-1 Pt Diff: 28
After a close call against our little brother from the south it will be refreshing to play against an old rival such as the Maryland Terrapins. It used to be that the Maryland game was a good barometer on how the Mountaineers would fare in a given season, but I do not think that is the case this year. After taking a two-season break from the rivalry we will need to see where Maryland's talent level is after a disappointing 2-10 season in 2009.

Nest season may be different, but at this point I think WVU has too much talent on defense and speed on offense for the Terps.

Pick: West Virginia 27-13

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