PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Keno takes over first place, and he holds a 29-point lead over Taylor as the season heads into its final regular season week. As the only two pickers with nine wins, they hold a big advantage over the rest of the field. Bill snags weekly pick honors with a total miss of 14 points, as no one (including your moderator) foresaw West Virginia's 35-point output in the win over Pitt.
It's hard to ding Patrick or Greg for their picks of Pitt, based on logic. However, as Chris so eloquently put it, "But never, EVER will I go on the record for picking Pitt in a Backyard Brawl." C'mon, man!
|Keenan Cummings||Last Week: W||Season: 9-2||Pt Diff: 162|
|With everything on the line, I just can't see West Virginia dropping this one to a team it has never lost to at home.|
|Pick: West Virginia 31-10|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: W||Season: 9-2||Pt Diff: 191|
|As the season comes to an end, the Mountaineers are playing their most consistent football of the year. With all that they have riding on this game, I think that West Virginia will come ready to play, and should come ready to perform in its final conference matchup of the season.|
|Pick: West Virginia 35-10|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week: L||Season: 8-3||Pt Diff: 157|
Round Seven. The Mountaineers will add a few more points to their scorecard with a pounding of a floundering Rutgers team. But the BCS representative's arm won't be raised into the air until the final bell on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.
Will it be a split decision? Yes. Bonus pick: UConn over South Florida, 27-17. WVU will head off to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, wondering what might have been if not for a few costly turnovers in October.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-10|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: W||Season: 8-3||Pt Diff: 171|
|West Virginia should be able to run with power, throw intermediately and stop Rutgers in just about all phases. The Mountaineers, as they have done twice in Big East play, could beat themselves, but there's little here in indicate Rutgers can do much in the way of knocking off WVU at home for the first time in 17 tries. If West Virginia plays intelligently, doesn't turn the bal over and executes, it should win. That really could have been said of about at least 10 games this year. With just one more between West Virginia and another (shared) Big East championship, a letdown would be catastrophic. There's no, truly, just one more to go in the season. The focus has to be on it. This one's closer than expected.|
|Pick: West Virginia 27-16|
|Andy Easton||Last Week: W||Season: 8-3||Pt Diff: 182|
The last time Rutgers beat the Mountaineers, Justin Bieber had just been born and Jeff Gillooly was sitting in jail after the attack on ice skater, Nancy Kerrigan. The year was 1994, and after a 1-2 start with losses to Nebraska and Rutgers, the Mountaineers would go on to finish 7-6 with a loss to South Carolina in the Carquest Bowl.
Sixteen years later the Scarlet Knights are still trying to score that next elusive win over West Virginia, and while there have been some close calls over the years, including last season's three-point victory in Piscataway, the Mountaineers have managed to pull out wins time and time again. This season will be no different as the Mountaineers are still playing for a BCS berth, while Rutgers will be spending the holidays at home after going bowling the previous four seasons.
|Pick: West Virginia 31-10|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: W||Season: 8-3||Pt Diff: 183|
West Virginia enters Saturday's regular season finale in must-win mode. A win, and the Mountaineers clinch a share of the Big East title. A win and a loss by Connecticut, and WVU heads to the BCS. A loss, and...well, I hear Charlotte is nice this time of year. Luckily, Rutgers comes to town looking like the perfect opponent to assist West Virginia's BCS hopes.
If the Mountaineers can't get up for this game, then they don't deserve to play for the BCS. Senior Day. Network television. A chance to play in the BCS. What other motivation do you need? A great opportunity awaits against the league's weakest team.
|Pick: West Virginia 38-13|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: W||Season: 8-3||Pt Diff: 186|
|One game to go. I've been preaching it for four weeks now. Only thing that matters for this team is this Saturday at noon. Not any 3:30 game, no 8:00 p.m. game, no rumors, no innuendos, no speculation... about anything. Go out and play defense like you have the entire season... hold onto the ball and the rest will take care of itself. I don't see Rutgers breaking the chain this year.|
|Pick: West Virginia 38-10|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: W||Season: 8-3||Pt Diff: 201|
|The Mountaineers are on a roll, and I'm not about to go against them now. Rutgers will come in ready to play, and its unusual offense could create some concern in the early going. In the end, though, all the confusion will eventually lead to Scarlet Knight mistakes, and WVU's defense will take full advantage of the opportunities. Shawne Alston will continue to impress, and the Mountaineers will put on their Bull horns after finishing the season 9-3.||Pick: West Virginia 29-16|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: W||Season: 8-3||Pt Diff: 216|
Ok, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is the predictions of snow for this Saturday. The good news is that the TV networks have finally figured out that a night game in December in Morgantown is a bad idea, and we get a noon kickoff. Thank you.
I have to confess that I'm still on a high from the Backyard Brawl. The only thing better than beating Pitt is humiliating Pitt in their own stadium and getting to watch it in person. Can't we just sit with this for a few more days?
No, ok, Rutgers. For a couple of years, it looked like Greg Schiano had completely transformed the Rutgers program and turned it into a Big East power. But this year, they're playing like Rutgers again -- which could be a trap. Mountaineers, beware, be very, very aware. If the good guys in blue and gold (yes, those are still our colors, at least last I heard, despite recent evidence to the contrary) can keep their focus, they should be able to handle Rutgers without too much trouble. If they're still glowing over the Brawl win, then it could be a long afternoon.
|Pick: West Virginia 35-7|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week: L||Season: 7-4||Pt Diff: 196|
|History tells us that West Virginia almost always beats Rutgers. Of course, recent history would have pointed similarly to the WVU series with Syracuse and UConn, and history would have been wrong in both of those cases this year. History aside, talent usually decides the outcome, and WVU has more. Unless it sustains self-inflicted wounds – a la Syracuse and UConn – the Mountaineers should improve their win streak over Rutgers to 16.|
|Pick: West Virginia 27-10|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: W||Season: 7-4||Pt Diff: 205|
The last time WVU went into the season finale as a 20+ point favorite over a four-win team with a chance to sew up the Big East title things didn't go so well.
Perhaps the Mountaineer coaching staff found the offense's identity in last week's pounding of Pittsburgh. Perhaps the horrendous defensive effort by Rutgers in the past two weeks will serve as perfect timing for an offense that still just hasn't found its stride, even after 11 games. Despite reports of the offensive onslaught, the Mountaineers only racked up 360 yards on offense against the Panthers in their 35-point outburst.
I don't see this Rutgers team being capable of moving the ball effectively against the Mountaineer defense and this should not be much of a game. But I'm still not feeling confident in the offense's ability to step on the gas and put the game away. Regardless of what UConn does in Tampa Saturday night, it is time for the offense to establish itself as a legitimate force, or playing in a bowl game against a top three team from any other conference is going to be a struggle.
|Pick: West Virginia 38-9|